Cole Waterman The Saginaw News, Mich.
SAGINAW, Mich. — A police officer walks up to a truck he’s just pulled over, planning to give the driver a warning for a mundane matter of driving without his headlights on.
“Nighty night,” the driver tells the unsuspecting officer, a second or two before firing a stolen gun in his face.
Saginaw Township Police Officer Jeff Koenig testified the morning of Thursday, March 7, during the continuation of a preliminary examination of 29-year-old Joshua M. Rosebush.
In the same hearing, Rosebush gave his version of the shooting and the events before and after, via a recording of an interview with a detective conducted shortly after Rosebush was shot in the face by police in Shiawassee County after an hourslong manhunt and arrested.
Koenig, a 16-year veteran of the department, testified he was working road patrol in the wee hours of Jan. 22 when he saw a white Dodge Ram pickup truck in a Marathon parking lot on Tittabawassee Road at about 2 a.m.
The pickup had its headlights off as it pulled out of the lot. Koenig drove in front of the truck then slowed and pulled into the left turn lane on Fashion Square Boulevard to allow the truck to pass. When the truck did pass and its headlights were still not activated, Koenig initiated a traffic stop between Bay Road and Fashion Square Boulevard.
Before exiting his patrol vehicle, Koenig ran the truck’s plates and learned it had not been reported stolen, he said. He approached the truck on foot.
Saginaw County Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Blair N. Stevenson asked Koenig what was going through his mind at the time.
“It was a simple traffic stop — tell him to turn his lights on and go home,” Koenig said.
Koenig approached the truck’s driver-side door, which had its window down.
“I believe I said something; I don’t recall exactly what I said,” Koenig said. “He said, ‘Nighty night,’ and fired the shot into my face.”
Koenig was a foot or two away from the truck when the shot was fired, he said.
“I didn’t see anything. I felt the impact, heard the round, and I went down,” he said. He had felt an impact to the right side of his face.
He said his first thought was to take cover. As he moved to get behind the truck, he felt another round strike him in his right shoulder, though he didn’t hear the second shot.
“It happened so quickly,” Koenig said. “The vehicle started to move. I pulled my firearm and fired two rounds.”
Koenig then activated the radio device on his chest to tell dispatchers he’d been shot. The truck, meanwhile, took off and Koenig lost sight of it.
Stevenson asked Koenig if he saw the man who had shot him in the courtroom. He identified the seated and shackled Rosebush as his assailant.
More officers arrived on the scene, loaded their wounded colleague in a vehicle, and drove him to Covenant Healthcare hospital in Saginaw. Koenig underwent his first surgery there, having the bullet removed from his shoulder and bullet fragments, teeth, and bone removed from his face, he said.
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“He was confronted with deadly force and he responded with deadly force, which he is allowed to do under the law.”
Koenig said a bullet fragment remains in his sinus cavity.
As Koenig testified, speaking clearly but in a low voice, the courtroom of Saginaw County District Judge Terry L. Clark was filled with spectators, mostly other officers and Koenig’s loved ones.
Cross-examined by defense attorney Rod O’Farrell, Koenig said nothing seemed unusual regarding the truck or its driver. While O’Farrell questioned Koenig, Rosebush scribbled notes on a legal paper.
O’Farrell asked Koenig if the truck’s driver had extended his arm out the window to shoot him a second time. Koenig said he did not know.
Police and prosecutors have previously said Rosebush abandoned the Dodge Ram and stole two more vehicles as he headed south. When the prelim began on Feb. 21, Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Scott Shenk testified he spotted Rosebush driving a van east on Interstate 69 and followed him.
Second preliminary examination for Joshua Rosebush, suspect in shooting Saginaw Township Officer Jeff Koenig
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Rosebush pulled over, jumped from the van, assumed a crouched position, and aimed a handgun at Shenk. Shenk fired two rounds, one striking Rosebush in the right side of his face.
Officer who shot man accused of shooting another police officer gives emotional testimony
The next preliminary exam will include a testimony from Officer Jeff Koenig.
Rosebush was arrested and taken to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing for treatment.
On Thursday, Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. David Rivard testified he met with Rosebush in the hospital as the suspect was handcuffed to a bed. Rivard said he read Rosebush his Miranda rights and Rosebush said he “might want an attorney.”
Rivard stopped asking questions and left the room, until a trooper guarding Rosebush summoned him a few moments later to tell him Rosebush now did want to answer the detective’s questions. Rivard added hospital staff had told him Rosebush had refused pain medication but had bandages around his head to stymie the bleeding.
When Rivard returned to Rosebush’s room, he reread him his Miranda rights and turned on a digital recording device, he said. Amid Rivard’s testimony, O’Farrell and Stevenson argued motions before the judge on whether or not Rosebush’s recorded statements to the detective should be admitted. Judge Clark ruled to allow the recording of the interview be played in court.
The recording opens with Rivard identifying himself and reading him his Miranda rights, which Rosebush says he understands. From there, Rosebush mumbles and sporadically cries.
Rosebush says he’s been in the criminal justice system since he was 16 and his mother lost custody of him when he was 14. He’s been in prison, on and off, for more than a decade on property crimes convictions, he says.
He began receiving letters from courts saying he owed money and would be arrested if he didn’t pay, he tells Rivard.
“I already did a decade,” he sobs. “Anyway, I stole somebody’s car. I cut my tethers off and I ran for it.”
After stealing a car in the Vassar area, he began hiding out in his sister’s camper, trying to keep warm in the single-digit weather. At some point, he stole a .380 pistol from the center console of a vehicle, he says.
He then stole the Dodge pickup in St. Charles, noting the truck was unlocked and had its keys in it.
Rivard asks him what happened next.
“I went to get McDonald’s and forgot to turn on my headlights,” he says. “That’s why he stopped me. I went to a gas station to get a beer as I was eating McDonald. I know I shouldn’t’ve been drinking and driving, but it was only one Pabst.
“I can still see the man,” Rosebush continues.
Rivard asks him if Koenig said anything.
“No, I didn’t give him time,” Rosebush says. “I shot him point blank in the face … twice. I ran as fast as I could.”
Rosebush says he was nervous and scared and ditched the truck before stealing two more vehicles. Rivard asks if he had a destination in mind.
“No. I was just looking to get away from…” Rosebush trails off.
Rivard then asks how he got in the shootout with Shenk in Shiawassee County.
“I felt like they were trying to be my friend or something,” Rosebush says. “It turned out to be a police officer. I don’t even understand it. I was really tired and listening to music.”
Circling back to the encounter with Koenig, Rivard asks Rosebush if he said anything to him when he approached his window.
“I said, ‘How ya doing?’ That was pretty much it. I think he was getting ready to respond.”
Rivard indicates Koenig survived the shooting but is in serious condition.
“He didn’t die?” Rosebush asks, getting emotional again. “Oh my god. Oh my god. It’s gonna be so much worse.”
After the recording finished, Stevenson sought to add single counts of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent and felony firearm to Rosebush’s case. Judge Clark granted the request.
With the two new counts, Rosebush faces 28 charges, the most serious are two counts of assault with intent to murder, a life offense. Though the more than two dozen charges span three counties, all matters have been consolidated for Saginaw County prosecutors to handle.
Stevenson asked Clark to bind Rosebush’s case over to Circuit Court for trial, which the judge granted.
Rosebush has at least 13 convictions on his record, 10 of which netted him prison time. Most recently, a Tuscola County judge in March 2016 sentenced him to three concurrent terms of two to 15 years in prison. The Michigan Department of Corrections paroled Rosebush in April and he is accused of absconding on Jan. 3 of this year by removing an electronic tether.
Rosebush is being held at Carson City Correctional Facility.
©2019 The Saginaw News, Mich.