A sheriff in Michigan has proposed that the alleged militiamen charged with plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer may have been planning to make a legal citizen's arrest.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf in May took the stage at an anti-lockdown rally with William Null, who with his twin brother Michael Null is among the 13 charged in the kidnapping plot.
'It's just a charge, and they say a 'plot to kidnap' and you got to remember that. Are they trying to kidnap?' Leaf told WXMI-TV on Thursday.
'Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt? Because you can still in Michigan if it's a felony, make a felony arrest,' Leaf said.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf has proposed that the alleged militiamen charged with plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer may have been planning to make a legal citizen's arrest
William Null (left) and his twin brother Michael Null (right) are among the 13 charged in the plot
In May, Sheriff Leaf (far right) appeared on stage with William Null (far left) at an anti-lockdown rally in Grand Rapids, protesting Governor Whitmer's stay-at-home orders
Leaf then cited the Michigan state law that allows private citizens to make an arrest if they witness a felony, or if in fact a felony has been committed. He did not suggest what felony Whitmer could be guilty of.
'It doesn't say if you are an elected office that you're exempt from that arrest,' Leaf said.
'I have to look at it from that angle, and I'm hoping that's more what it is, in fact, these guys are innocent till proven guilty so I'm not even sure if they had any part of it,' the sheriff added.
764.16 Arrest by private person; situations.
Sec. 16. A private person may make an arrest—in the following situations:
(a) For a felony committed in the private person's presence.
(b) If the person to be arrested has committed a felony although not in the private person's presence.
(c) If the private person is summoned by a peace officer to assist the officer in making an arrest.
(d) If the private person is a merchant, an agent of a merchant, an employee of a merchant, or an independent contractor providing security for a merchant of a store and has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has violated section 356c or 356d of the Michigan penal code, Act No. 328 of the Public Acts of 1931, being sections 750.356c and 750.356d of the Michigan Compiled Laws, in that store, regardless of whether the violation was committed in the presence of the private person.
The law was enacted in 1927 and last amended in 1988.
Leaf said that he knew the Null brothers from multiple anti-lockdown events, and knew them as very nice and respectful.
'The two gentlemen that I know of from my county, were they involved in that? I don't know. They're innocent till proven guilty. And we really, really should be careful, trying to try them in the media,' Leaf said.
Leaf's office was not involved in the federal investigation of the alleged kidnapping plot, and said that he did not know the details of the case.
'I haven't read everything up on it, I've got other duties to do, it wasn't our investigation,' he said. 'I was shocked, did not see this coming with those guys, but still we can't convict them in the media here, they do have a right to a fair trial.'
In May, Leaf appeared alongside William Null on stage at an anti-lockdown protest in Grand Rapids. He said he had no regrets and that the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.
Leaf's remarks provoked furious reaction, including from Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel, who called his comments 'dangerous.'
'As Michigan’s top law enforcement official, let me make this abundantly clear-Persons who are not sworn, licensed members of a law enforcement agency cannot and should not “arrest” government offficials with whom they have disagreements. These comments are dangerous,' Nessel