4 Muskegon County officers avoid jail time in inmate’s death

Apr 20, 2023, 4:00 PM

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Four corrections officers in western Michigan avoided incarceration with plea bargains Thursday in the 2019 death of a jailed man who suffered multiple seizures while in a cell.

Muskegon County sheriff’s Sgt. David Vanderlaan and Deputies Jeffrey Patterson, Crystal Greve and Jamal Lane pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty and were sentenced in Muskegon County Circuit Court to 100 hours of community service and fined $1,000.

The four originally were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Paul Bulthouse, 39, who had been jailed on a probation violation. A medical examiner testified that Bulthouse suffered 18 seizures over 4½ hours.

The four corrections officers still work at the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, their attorney told WOOD-TV.

The case was prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office after the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office found no wrongdoing in 2019.

The jail employees were working in the receiving and booking area where Bulthouse was being kept in a solitary observation cell.

Defense attorney Marc Curtis said in a statement that “evidence would have shown that the medical staff, not these deputies, neglected (Bulthouse) even after being alerted of his deteriorating condition by these same deputies.”

Bulthouse’s family reached a $2.4 million settlement with Muskegon County in 2021.

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4 Muskegon County officers avoid jail time in inmate’s death