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'Not surprised:' Family speaks out after 39-year-old man was shot, killed by deputy

The suspect stabbed a K9 three times before charging at officers with a knife.
Jacob Bender
Posted at 4:27 PM, Jul 27, 2021

GOBLES, Mich. — The family of a man shot and killed by a Van Buren County Deputy is speaking out.

The situation happened last night in the city of Gobles, 10 miles north of Paw Paw.

"I knew that things were going to go in a bad direction, a negative direction," said Ashley Cousins, a cousin to the 39-year-old who was shot and killed.

Investigators said the deputy only fired his weapon after the man stabbed a K9, charged at officers with a knife and didn't react to being tasered.

The family tells Fox 17 News they didn't have a strong relationship with the suspect due to his lifestyle choices were not surprised this happened.

"It was bound to end at some point. This was a bit much," said Cousins.

Ashely Cousins, a cousin of the 39-year-old suspect, didn't want to speak to Fox 17 on camera but did want to speak on behalf of the family.

"We made contact with everyone," Cousns said. "Everyone is aware of it. Everybody is a little flabbergasted as to what happened and how it happened. Oddly enough, not surprised."

The family has identified the man killed as Jacob Bender.

The situation unfolded around 7:30 p.m. Monday night when the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office received a call for domestic violence.

Officers were sent to the home in the 300 block of North State Street.

They talked with the caller, who was reportedly assaulted, and learned that the suspect had multiple warrants out for his arrest.

"We'd been up here on different occasions at this residence," said Sheriff Daniel E. Abbott with the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office. "The deputies end up going into the residence with the wife attempting to locate the husband. They weren't initially able to locate the husband. The wife did let them know that when police comes he hides in a hidden crawl space."

Things escalated quickly as the sheriff's office said they located the man in the home's crawlspace.

Deputies sent K9 Kuno in after he didn't respond to multiple verbal commands.

K9 Kuno was reportedly stabbed three times before his handler was able to get him out.

"The subject was tased to no avail," Sheriff Abbott said. "The subject still did have the knife in his possession, did not go by verbal commands, and unfortunately, the deputies ended up using lethal force once they were confronted with a subject with a knife coming at them."

The deputy who fired the deadly shot was placed on administrative leave which is protocol in these investigations.

While the family is saddened by the suspect's death, they are also wanted to show support for law enforcement.

"On behalf of our family, we say thank you for being there. We’re sorry for the K9 officer who got hurt," Cousins said.

The Van Buren County Sheriff's Office said K9 Kuno has been released from the veterinarian's office. He is now home with his handler recovering.

Michigan State Police is currently investigating.

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