Burton police angry that fellow officer’s killer may be set free

The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 any juvenile sentenced to life in prison without parole now has the right for their sentence to be re-looked at.
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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BURTON, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/16/2020) - “The sheer ruthlessness and cold bloodedness of the murder itself, to me, trumps any age,” former Burton Police Chief Herman Clark said.

Former coworkers of Burton Police Officer Terry Thompson are angry to learn the man who killed him may be let out in the next few years.

Officer Thompson died in the line of duty 37 years ago.

The man convicted of murdering him was just 16-years-old at the time.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 any juvenile sentenced to life in prison without parole now has the right for their sentence to be re-looked at.

A Judge is currently evaluating Shane Richey’s case and could be making the decision soon.

“He was the kind of officer that was so conscientious that if something happened in his area or his district, he took it personally. And he’d go visit the people and feel bad about it,” Clark explained.

He called Thompson any boss’s dream employee.

“As a citizen, you hope he was the officer responding to your call 'cause you know he’d do everything he needs to do to solve it,” Clark said. “If he was working with you, you never had to worry about your backup or your safety because he’d always be there.”

In his 8th year with the Department, on July 5th 1983, the Vietnam Veteran died responding to a burglary alarm at what was a Super City department store on South Saginaw.

Clark said the alarm sounded because it picked up movement inside. Two teenagers were stealing a number of guns and loading them. Thompson went in and Shane Richey shot him -- not once but 7 or 8 times, even switching guns in the process.

“And then stand on over and savagely shoot him one last time to make sure they weren’t, were dead -- to me, the sheer ruthlessness of that and cold bloodedness trumps the age issue,” Clark added.

“I understand the ruling. But, to me, the court’s ruling ignores victims which are huge in any crime, and more importantly to me that the court’s ignoring a jury’s finding,” Bruce Whitman said.

He is also a former Burton Police Chief. Whitman was a detective when Thompson was killed and investigated his friend’s murder.

Since learning Richey’s sentencing is being looked at, he’s been really upset for Thompson’s family.

The Prosecutor is pushing for the Judge to keep the original sentence of life without parole. If she instead decides on a number of years, he said she can give no less than 40 and no more than 60.

Richey, now 54-years-old, has already served 37 years. If the Judge goes with that minimum, he could be out soon.

“The city was well served with him,” Whitman said. “It was a huge loss.”

The Burton Police Department started a tradition years ago where whenever a new officer is hired, part of their training is coming to the Law Enforcement Memorial and the locations where their fellow officers were killed. It’s one of many efforts to keep their memory alive.

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