CORUNNA — The Corunna City Council Monday voted 6-0 to fire Police Chief Nick Chiros after a video was posted online that showed Chiros verbally berating and then arresting a man for video recording an allegedly suicidal man who climbed a utility tower near the Mitchell Field park.
The council then voted to name part-time Corunna officer and Gaines Police Chief Mark Schmitzer interim chief while a search for a permanent replacement chief is conducted.
Chiros, 66, became chief after Kim Williams retired in 2015. He joined the department in 2005.
A Flint native, Chiros spent 231/2 years with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office before retiring in 1998 as a sergeant. While with the department, he was a deputy and spent time on the serious and fatal accident team. He was also a department representative to the multi-agency Flint Area Narcotics Group, known as FANG.
Chiros submitted a letter to the Corunna City Council in October that stated his intention to retire in January.
The council voted to terminate Chiros “without cause,” which allows him to keep his pension and benefits.
Chiros declined to comment this morning.
Council member John Lawson Monday said police work is changing, and Corunna has to have a “softer” approach when it comes to law enforcement. He added he was deluged with messages and emails following Friday’s incident.
“We’ve been thrown into kind of a global spotlight on this, all through the internet,” Lawson said. “I’ve been getting emails mostly from a fringe group. They want to see some kind of stock put up in the town square where people can throw tomatoes at (Chiros).”
The controversy began Friday shortly before noon when Central Dispatch called police to the scene to deal with a man who threatened to jump from the tower over an unspecified issue with a woman.
Matthew Wrosch, of Bennington Township, who posts YouTube videos under the “Michigan Constitutional Crusader” account, went to the scene and began recording. The man, who climbed the tower can be seen about 30 feet up in the tower in the video.
Wrosch is approached by two Michigan State Police troopers, who instructed him to move farther back from the tower because, they said, the man was agitated by people within his view. Wrosch agreed to move farther back, but continued recording.
Several minutes later, Chiros approaches Wrosch and tells him to leave the scene several times. Wrosh responded that he was on public property that his recording is protected under the First Amendment.
Chiros told Wrosch to leave several more times. Wrosch continued to refuse and Chiros finally arrested Wrosch for interference and resisting/obstructing a police officer.
Wrosh protested, telling Chiros “you’re violating my rights.”
“Listen, I could give a f*** about your rights right now,” Chiros says in the video. “I’m not politically correct. So shove that up your ass. I could give a f*** less what you think. You understand? I’m worried about that guy jumping off that God-d**** (tower). I don’t need you here doing this s***. So you’re going to jail. You’re going to learn the hard way. I told you about four times.”
“No, you’re going to learn the hard way,” Wrosch replied.
“F*** you,” Chiros said, and cuffed Wrosch before walking him to a MSP cruiser. Wrosch was then transported to the Shiawassee County Jail by MSP, booked and kept overnight, before being released Saturday morning after prosecutors declined to issue a warrant.
Wrosch did not physically resist arrest in the video footage posted online. His camera was left on and recording and continued to record his interactions with various officers throughout his processing at the jail while it was in police possession.
Wrosch, who has a master’s degree in business management from Northwood University, was present at the meeting Monday and recorded the proceedings, which have already been uploaded to YouTube. At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, he urged the council to terminate Chiros’ employment.
In another video posted by Wrosch Saturday morning, he is seen in front of the Corunna Town Tub Citgo station after being released from jail.
“He screwed himself real good with that,” Wrosch said in the video. “Now I just gotta find a good lawyer to bury him with.”
In several other videos posted Sunday and Monday, Wrosch apparently protested in downtown Corunna, and attempted to file a complaint at the Flint MSP post against the two troopers who transported him to jail.
Monday, Wrosch was protesting in front of Corunna City Hall. He said he plans to file a civil lawsuit against Chiros and the two MSP troopers who transported him to jail. He also said he wants to see Chiros and the troopers criminally prosecuted for “depriving him of his rights under the color of law.”
Wrosch claimed he went back to the scene of his arrest and measured how far away from the tower he was — 477 feet.
Following Wrosch’s arrest, the video was widely shared on social media, and the city of Corunna was inundated with phone calls, voicemails, emails and Facebook messages seeking the suspension or firing of Chiros. The city and Corunna Police Facebook pages were taken down sometime Friday or Saturday.