Bar owner sues state police for using excessive force

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Review file photo by Linda Gallagher

Elmira business owner Larry Sevenski is pictured in 2017, when he was convicted of a felony charge of resisting, obstructing, and assaulting an officer. Sevenski is now suing the Michigan State Police in federal court for allegedly using excessive force on the elderly man during a March 2017 traffic stop on US-131. 

ELMIRA – Two years after being thrown to the ground by a Michigan State Police trooper after allegedly threatening the officer, life is still a nightmare for Larry Sevenski, owner of the Seven-Ski Inn at the intersection of US-131 and M-32 near Elmira in northeastern Antrim County.

Besides dealing with the ongoing medical and legal bills that came as a result of his hospitalization and subsequent felony trial stemming from the 2017 incident, the now 86-year-old business owner is coping with the declining health of his 84-year-old wife, Dorothy, and what may be the end of his automotive service after the roof of the business's garage collapsed during the winter from unseen accumulated ice.

After a fall in early March, Dorothy was finally able to return home this week after a six-week hospitalization and rehabilitation stay. 

Along with these circumstances, Larry Sevenski is attempting to keep the bar and restaurant he's owned for more than 50 years in operation with a felony conviction hanging over his head. 

But Sevenski is hoping that at least some good news may be on the horizon, through a case currently pending in Grand Rapids federal court accusing the Michigan State Police of using excessive force against him.

The business owner's problems with the law began on the night March 17, 2017 when, according to the testimony of then-rookie Michigan State Trooper Brock Artfitch, Sevenski assaulted him after being pulled over on US-131 near the bar for failure to use a turn signal, a charge later dropped.

Court records state Artfitch took Sevenski to the ground after the bar owner ignored commands to stay in his vehicle, telling them he had a “bone to pick,” and adding that he wished he had a weapon, cocked his fist in what the troopers believed to be an attempt to strike Artfitch.

Artfitch, who in both 2018 and 2019 has been awarded the state police's Cpl. Samuel A. Mapes Criminal Patrol and Investigation award, then took Sevenski down, during which Sevenski sustained a broken nose and right arm, and aggravated an older shoulder injury.

As a result, he was hospitalized for several days.

During Sevenski's subsequent trial in July 2017 on charges of resisting, obstructing and assaulting an officer, a felony, 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power took note of Sevenski's injuries, saying "He was obviously subdued in a severe way,” and added that exactly what happened that night "will never be fully ascertained" because of the apparent malfunction of a police video camera.

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