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Shelby Township

Prosecutor denies warrants for Shelby Township election day fracas

September 12, 2012

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Political signs outside Crissman Elementary at 53550 Wolf Drive bore the signs of paint that caused an altercation between local candidates and a resident Aug. 7.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office may not agree, but all parties involved in an altercation outside Crissman Elementary the day of Shelby Township’s primary election believe that someone was assaulted.

Where the agreement gets fuzzy, though, are acertaining who was assaulted and the ramifications of those allegations on the police investigation. As it stands, no one will face charges.

“The reality is she assaulted me,” Matt Guarnieri said of the altercation between himself and Jean Leman, the wife of former Shelby Township Police Chief Bob Leman, a candidate for township supervisor. “She turned to hit me, and I put my hands up.”

Guarneri contends that Jean Leman attempted to strike him as the two grappled over a political sign that featured Bob Leman’s name, which Guarnieri was attempting to paint “malicious” messages on with red paint.

“The stuff I did, it wasn’t nice and it was kind of malicious, but it was not illegal,” Guarnieri said.

That is why Guarnieri was shocked when he learned the investigation into the incident by Shelby Township police requested a warrant against him for assault.

At the center of the investigation was a video report from local media that showed most of the altercation, including Guarnieri being shoved by Township Trustee Lisa Manzella and her husband, Joe Manzella, but did not feature him physically confronting Jean Leman.

“There were incidents that took place off the video, and based on that, assault charges were sought against Matt Guarnieri,” Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers said.

“Based on what the investigating officer was told by a witness, he felt Mrs. Leman was assaulted.”

And Woelkers said that witness testimony was also used to not charge Lisa and Joe Manzella with assault.

“The video provides a lot of information, but it doesn’t have everything,” Woelkers said.

The investigation resulted in warrant requests for trespassing against Jean Leman and Lisa and Joe Manzella as the altercation took place on an easement owned by Guarnieri.

“Matt Guarnieri assaulted Jean Leman by pushing, punching, shoving her,” Woelkers said of the witness’ testimony. “(The Manzella’s) side is they came to her assistance.”

“He pushed her, grabbed her and swung her around several times,” Lisa Manzella said. “It was enough to make me shocked he wasn’t removed from the scene in handcuffs.”

Guarnieri believes the video evidence is the only thing that kept him out of handcuffs, and he disputes witness testimony as biased and the investigation as skewed.

“How was I accused of assault when I didn’t assault anyone?” Guarnieri said. “The thought is, this is the police protecting their own, protecting the privileged.”

Woelkers said he stands by his department’s investigation into the incident and the prosecutor’s office provides vindication.

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