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MDOT employee involved in stabbing disciplined three times for work misbehavior

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A state employee who allegedly stabbed a man last month over a dispute regarding masks was disciplined three times in two years by the Michigan Department of Transportation, according to personnel filings released to The Detroit News through a public records request. 

A still image from an Eaton County Sheriff deputy's body camera appears to show Sean Ruis holding a screwdriver in his left hand and two knives in his right hand moments before the deputy shot him during an altercation Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

Sean Ruis, 43, was shot and killed July 14 in Eaton County after police said he stabbed a man at a Windsor Township Quality Dairy and then approached a deputy with two knives and a screwdriver when stopped in Delta Township. 

The deputy fired several rounds at Ruis as he continued to approach her after receiving a verbal warning. 

The 77-year-old Lansing man was "an innocent bystander" that Ruis attacked after he was asked by a Quality Dairy staff member to wear a mask, Quality Dairy said in a statement after the incident. Police initially said the man had confronted Ruis about his lack of a mask. 

The 77-year-old Lansing man, John Duncan III, died Aug. 8, Duncan's son told the Lansing State Journal.

Michigan State Police Lt. Brian Oleksyk declined to confirm Duncan's death but said last week that the investigation into the stabbing and officer-involved shooting were ongoing. 

Ruis, a 12-year employee of the state transportation department, was reprimanded, ordered to do training and suspended in three separate incidents between 2017 and 2018, according to state personnel records. 

In March 2017, Ruis was issued a notice of reprimand for approaching a co-worker in February of the same year and questioning him about his use of leave.

"You had been previously instructed, multiple times, by your supervisor and by labor relations, that the employee's use of leave is confidential," the notice said. "You continued to confront this coworker even after he had informed you that you were harassing him."

Ruis was ordered to do conflict training and adhere to state policies moving forward. He refused to sign the reprimand, the notice said.

In August 2017, Ruis was suspended for three days and required to take workplace violence training for "conduct unbecoming a state employee" and a violation of the department's "workplace violence policy"

In April 2018, Ruis was issued a "notice of formal counseling" for "unacceptable" behavior at work that stemmed from interactions with a manager.

Ruis, according to the notice, was called by a labor relations manager after an employee said Ruis approached him in an "intimidating manner" and asked to see his employee identification. 

The labor relations manager told Ruis he should speak to the security guard or supervisor if he suspected someone was in the Construction and Technology Building in Dimondale without permission. 

Ruis told the manager "just because you're in HR doesn't mean you can tell me what to do in my own building," and then said "forget you" before hanging up, according to the notice. 

Ruis was instructed not to disrupt or approach other employees about employment issues and was told to "be respectful and professional in your communications with everyone while at work."

"Failure to meet these expectations may lead to further corrective and/or disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal," the notice said. 

Ruis refused to sign the notice or take a copy, according to the record. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com