Columbia Township police officer will not be charged in fatal shooting

Columbia Township police officer will not be charged in fatal shooting
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 7:03 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - A police officer involved in a fatal shooting in March will not face charges.

Ben Hovarter, an officer with the Columbia Township Police Department, was placed on leave after fatally shooting a 36-year-old man.

According to authorities, the shooting occurred March 31 in the early morning hours in the Lake Columbia area of Columbia Township in Jackson County.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka announced Friday the shooting was justified and that Hovarter shot Erik Nielsen in self-defense.

Police said Hovarter was responding to a call of a man having a seizure and when he arrived, Hovarter was assaulted by Nielsen, who was naked. Jarzynka said Hovarter used an electroshock weapon on Nielsen twice, which had no impact.

Hovarter said once they were outside, Nielsen came after him with an axe, so he shot him three times.

Jarzynka said Hovarter was in immediate danger and had to make a split-second decision.

The Columbia Township Police Department said it will conduct an internal review of the incident and that Hovarter will remain on administrative leave.

Read next:

Copyright 2022 WILX. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.