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Domestic violence call in Michigan based on misunderstanding

Imagine hearing a woman's scream from a neighbor's house. Is it the sound of a domestic violence situation or something else? Fortunately, in one recent case, it was the latter, though a man might have faced criminal charges if the police had acted differently.

A Michigan woman recently called 911 and reported hearing another woman screaming and yelling "Stop! No!", as well as a loud noise repeating over and over. Believing the report to possibly be describing a domestic violence incident, police responded to the address given by the caller.

When police arrived, the woman answering the door denied that she had been assaulted by her boyfriend. That may not be an unusual response in a domestic violence investigation, but the woman's explanation was: she said that her boyfriend had been passing gas repeatedly in her presence. Her shouting was to get him to stop his annoying but nonviolent prank.

One can imagine how police were able to corroborate the woman's story. The police report noted that the responding officers "cleared the scene expeditiously" without arresting the boyfriend.

This story is humorous, but it also illustrates an important point about domestic violence arrests in Michigan. When officers come to a home where domestic abuse is suspected, it may be unclear who started the fight or if there was a violent incident at all. However, officers may make an arrest anyway. Those arrested on suspicion of domestic assault have legal rights that can be used during prosecution of the case against them.

Source: WWJ-TV, "Police Called To Investigate Fight About Flatulence," Marie Osbourne, July 3, 2013

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