Elderly bar owner faces trial after trooper feud

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — An elderly northern Michigan bar owner is awaiting trial after a March traffic stop by Michigan State Police left him injured and facing a felony charge.

Larry Sevenski, 83, pleaded not guilty on April 12 to resisting arrest.

Troopers said Sevenski stepped out of his vehicle when they stopped him for failing to signal while sharply turning. Sevenski allegedly approached their patrol car and raised his fist to Trooper Brock Artfitch, 28. Artfich tackled Sevenski to the ground, leaving the man hospitalized with a broken arm and bloodied nose.

Sevenski denied troopers’ claims about his behavior, saying they are the ones that escalated the situation. He said the troopers were staking out his bar, Larry’s Seven-Ski Inn, to catch drunken drivers on holiday that St. Patrick’s Day.

Police car camera footage was supposed to capture the incident, but State Police said it was lost to a camera malfunction with only a 17-second clip remaining.

Rick Steiger, Sevenski’s attorney, said the missing footage would help him in his defense but declined to say whether the short clip would be presented to a jury.

“I would say in my 16 years of being a prosecutor, an assistant prosecutor, public defender and defense attorney I don’t recall one situation when a camera, when utilized, malfunctioned,” he said. “So in this case the purported malfunction is very unfortunate.”

The courtroom was packed with mostly locals who were outraged about Sevenski’s arrest and injuries. Social media also caused the story to spread across the country.

“Shame on you, beating on that 83-year-old man,” Don Koshmider of Cadillac said. “Why did you turn off your video camera?”

Locals are planning a benefit at Sevenski’s bar April 22 to raise money for medical bills not covered by his Medicare insurance.

Prosecutor Jim Rossiter and State Police Lt. Mark Harris could not be reached by the Traverse City Record-Eagle for comment.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 24.