DeWitt Township, MI – A Michigan police officer who was wounded in the line of duty just celebrated the good news that he’ll be getting a new hip in May that will let him return to the law enforcement career he loved.
But then a week later, the township that DeWitt Township Police Officer Robert “Bob” Stump served and protected for 14 years unceremoniously fired him, wife Molly Stump told The Police Tribune.
DeWitt Township Manager Andrew Dymczyk told Officer Stump that he had been given enough time to heal and was too expensive, and so they were going to replace him with a new officer that wouldn’t be such a big financial obligation to the township, according to the officer’s wife.
The police department has 17 sworn officers.
“We’re very overwhelmed, very confused by all of this,” Molly Stump told WSYM. “How do you go from two years ago, you know, being hailed a hero, and now you’re a burden to us financially?”
Many residents and members of the police department want now-former Officer Stump to be reinstated immediately because they think his termination was in retaliation for him having served as an effective union representative for many years.
He had battled Dymczyk in the past on his fellow officers’ behalf and won on many occasions, according to sources.
The car crash that almost killed Officer Stump occurred at 11:03 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2020 when a suicidal woman intentionally ran her vehicle head-on into his patrol SUV, WILX reported.
Police said the driver – later identified as 33-year-old Randi Justice – had an outstanding warrant and was being chased by the Laingsburg police chief for 11 minutes before DeWitt Township police put down spike strips to try to disable her vehicle.
The police chief said Justice hit the spike strips but continued driving for about a half a mile before she crossed the centerline of the roadway with her 2005 Dodge Caravan and slammed head-first into the SUV being driven by Officer Stump, WILX reported.
Afterwards, Justice admitted to police that she was trying to commit suicide when she intentionally crashed into Officer Stump, the Lansing State Journal reported.
“She did make a statement that she wanted to die, that she was trying to kill herself,” Laingsburg Police Chief Dan DeKorte said.
Investigators have estimated that Justice was doing between 50 and 60 mph when she rammed into Officer Stump’s patrol vehicle, the Lansing State Journal reported.
She was arrested and initially charged with 10 felonies, including attempted murder and reckless driving.
However, prosecutors dropped seven of the 10 charges and she was ultimately allowed to plead no contest to two counts of felonious assault and one count of assaulting a police officer instead, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Molly Stump said prosecutors told them Justice will serve seven-and-a-half years in prison in accordance with that agreement when she is sentenced in March.
Officer Stump was very seriously injured in the intentional wreck caused by the suicidal driver.
His wife told The Police Tribune that surgeons put his hip back together but the pins haven’t held and doctors determined that he needed a full hip replacement.
She said that for the two years since the crash, she and Officer Stump have jumped through the notoriously slow and difficult workman’s compensation hoops to get the medical treatment he required for the officer to be cleared to return to active duty.
In the meantime, Officer Stump tried to return to light duty at his police department.
But Molly Stump told The Police Tribune that DeWitt Township refused to allow him to return in any other capacity than cleared for full patrol, even though other officers in the past have been approved for light duty after line-of-duty injuries.
“The things he’s done in his career, the people he’s protected and saved,” Molly Stump told the Lansing State Journal. “This is how he’s thanked for all those years of giving up holidays and birthdays and working nights?”
When the township manager fired Officer Stump without warning, there was no public thank you, ceremony, going away party, or other acknowledgment of the sacrifices he had made for the community.
She said her husband was told he had become too expensive, they weren’t going to keep him on and pay for his hip replacement so he could come back to work, and warned him to get on his wife’s health insurance by Feb. 28th.
“We are forever grateful for Officer Stump’s 14 years of service and dedication to serving our residents. We wish him continued success in his recovery,” Dymczyk wrote in an emailed statement that was the only formal public acknowledgment made.
Molly Stump sent a letter to the DeWitt Township Board of Trustees asking for an explanation of her husband’s treatment, the Lansing State Journal reported.
“It is devastating to look back over the past two years and consider how Officer Stump spent them in tremendous pain, jumping through hoops in an attempt to get back into the service of your constituents — and to realize that it all meant nothing,” the angry wife wrote.
“The impact of his efforts to protect and save the lives of your constituents over his fourteen years of service is immeasurable,” she continued. “You cannot put a price tag on what he has done and what he has sacrificed. Or maybe you can. It seems that DeWitt Charter Township has deemed his worth to be very measurable — he apparently holds no value at all.”
Molly Stump said the treatment her husband has gotten has made other officers wonder what the township will do to them if they’re wounded in the line of duty, the Lansing State Journal reported.
In response, the trustees have put the matter on their agenda for a meeting on Monday night at 7 p.m. and the officer’s wife told The Police Tribune that they have been told to expect a lot of support from the community and the police department.
At least one member of the Board of Trustees told the Stumps that they had no idea Dymczyk planned to fire the wounded hero.
There has been a lot of scuttlebutt about DeWitt Township manager’s prior acrimonious relationship with the wounded officer.
Sources told The Police Tribune that for many years, Officer Stump worked tirelessly as the union representative for his department, and in doing so, had battled with the township manager on more than one occasion.
They said that Dymczyk has held a grudge against Officer Stump for his union advocacy work and that what he has done to the officer since he was hurt in the line-of-duty crash is “purely malicious.”
Molly Stump, who works full time as a teacher, said her husband wanted to have his hip replacement and return to the job that he once loved.
However, she told The Police Tribune they will seek out attorneys to explore all options if things aren’t made right at the meeting on Feb. 28.
The Police Tribune reached out to Dymczyk for comment but had not received a response at publication time.