Murder charge dropped in hit-and-run of officer
The 19-year-old Belleville man charged in the Aug. 4 hit-and-run death of Detroit police officer Fadi Shukur had a second-degree murder charge in the case dismissed and his bond lowered to $5,000.
Judge Kenneth King, who on Friday presided over the preliminary examination of Jonathan Cole, said the murder charge was dropped because the facts of the case showed Cole operated with no "wanton or willful disregard for human life."
"In my experience, both as a prosecutor at a judge, there has to be more than one circumstance involved," King told The News on Tuesday. "The only thing the (prosecution) was able to show is that he may have been speeding — and even the speeding wasn't extremely excessive."
In a second-degree murder case, King said, "the intent that has to be shown is either an intent to kill, or a wanton and willful disregard for human life, which normally entails more than one aggravating circumstance. The only thing they were able to show is that he was speeding."
The morning of the crash, Cole was traveling on McNichols, going about 35 to 45 mph. A Detroit police scout car blocked one lane and had its lights on.
The area was dark, and Shukur walked in the lane of travel with his back turned to traffic, King said. Cole is also blind in one eye.
A passenger in the vehicle said she told Cole that the speed limit was 35, but that he believed it was 45, King said.
While authorities have alleged that Cole drank before driving, he hasn't faced any alcohol-related charges.
"They weren't able to establish that," King said.
After the crash, King said, Cole "panicked," drove off from the scene, went back to his mother's house, and didn't tell her about the crash.
"Not to put any blame on the prosecutor's office; those charges are always very difficult to shake out," King said. "During my time in the prosecutor's office, we used to sit in a room and debate what a charge should be. There would be some pretty hostile debates. So that's not an easy call."
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will file a motion seeking reinstatement of the dropped murder charge, spokeswoman Maria Miller confirmed Tuesday.
Cole is due in court on Sept. 7 for an arraignment on information.
The hit-and-run happened about 2:40 a.m. Aug. 4, on the 18000 block of West McNichols, near Stahelin Avenue, on the city's west side. Police were helping with a crowd control situation in the area.
Authorities accuse Cole of striking Officer Fadi Shukur, 30, as the officer walked to his vehicle.
Cole fled the scene, but later turned himself in at a Detroit Police precinct.
On Aug. 7, Cole faced charges of reckless driving causing serious impairment and failure to stop at the scene of an accident, resulting in serious impairment, and was given a $150,000 bond.
Cole was re-arraigned the next day on amended charges of second-degree murder, reckless driving causing death, and failure to stop at the scene of an accident when at fault, resulting in death, and was denied bond.
On Friday, at Cole's preliminary examination,
After the second-degree murder charge was dropped Friday, the other two charges still stand. But Cole is no longer remanded to custody and had his bond dropped to $5,000, along with a requirement that he wear an alcohol tether if he does post bond, records show.
As of Tuesday morning, Wayne County Jail records still showed Cole as an inmate.