The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and Roseville police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting April 26, 2022, on Groesbeck Highway between 12 Mile and Martin roads in Roseville. A lawsuit recently was filed against the city and officer.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and Roseville police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting April 26, 2022, on Groesbeck Highway between 12 Mile and Martin roads in Roseville. A lawsuit recently was filed against the city and officer.

File photo by Brian Wells

Lawsuit filed against Roseville, police officer for shooting death

By: Brian Wells | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 25, 2023


ROSEVILLE — A wrongful death lawsuit was filed recently against the city of Roseville after one of the city’s police officers shot and killed a man in April 2022.

At approximately 6:20 a.m. April 26, 2022, Roseville police responded to a crash involving a Chevrolet Silverado and a semi-truck on Groesbeck Highway, just south of 12 Mile Road. According to the department, the Silverado was traveling south on Groesbeck Highway before crossing into oncoming traffic and colliding head-on with the semi.

When police arrived, they found the driver of the Silverado, identified as Frank Robles, 57, of Roseville, in the roadway holding a knife — reportedly a fishing knife with a 4-inch blade. Officers ordered him to drop the knife as he began advancing toward them, according to the police investigation. He allegedly refused to comply with additional commands from the officers.

In body camera footage shown during an April 27, 2022, press conference, Robles can be seen advancing toward the officer, identified as Chad Lee, who repeatedly told Robles to drop the knife. When Robles refused to do so, the officer shot him, dropping him to the ground, according to the video. When Robles attempted to get up while still possessing the knife, Lee fired more shots. In all, the officer fired nine shots, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said at the conference.

The officers were uninjured. Robles was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting and said May 18, 2022, that it found no evidence that would support any charges against Lee. The Sheriff’s Office reviewed the case with the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office.

“After this review, a consistent opinion was reached that no criminal charges are warranted for Officer Chad Lee,” the Sheriff’s Office stated last year. “The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office investigation is closed at this time.”

Now, more than a year later, a lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the city of Roseville and Lee.

The lawsuit has been filed by Southfield-based Moss & Colella. The plaintiff is Laura Robles, personal representative of the estate of Frank Vincent Robles III.

A press release sent by the law firm states that Frank Robles was found outside his vehicle “dazed and disoriented and carrying a four-inch fishing fillet knife.

“Within seconds, Officer Lee observed the knife held loosely at Robles’ side in a passive manner,” the release states. “Despite no threats to Officer Lee, no evidence of committing a violent crime and no civilians in danger, he fired multiple shots at Robles, who fell to the ground incapacitated. Officer Lee then fired several more rounds, one of which struck Robles in the head.”

The lawsuit claims excessive and deadly force, assault and battery, gross negligence and Monell liability for unconstitutional policies and practices, the press release from the law firm states.

Monell liability is the possibility of a municipality being held liable for an officer’s actions when the plaintiff can prove that the officer violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and that the violation resulted from an official municipal policy, an unofficial custom, or indifference to training or supervising the officer.

In the press release, A. Vince Colella, the attorney handling the lawsuit, states that qualified immunity does not apply in this case.

“The qualified immunity defense can be readily overcome in this case because Officer Lee violated Mr. Robles’ constitutional right to be free from an unreasonable use of deadly force,” he stated.

While Colella also added that police officers should be fully trained in the use of Tasers and less-lethal options of restraint, at the April 2022 press conference, then-Roseville Police Chief Ryan Monroe, now the Roseville city manager, said his officers are equipped with and trained to use a Taser; however, a knife is considered a deadly weapon, and in that situation officers are trained to use their sidearms.

“Our officers are trained (that) Tasers are not always reliable,” he said. “They’re just another piece of equipment that can malfunction.”

Robles, a father of two, was employed by Roseville Community Schools, where he worked in the district’s Buildings and Grounds Department.

“Given the pendency of the lawsuit, the family is not at liberty to speak outside of the proceedings only to say that Frank was a loving husband and father who will be missed,” Colella said in an email.

Roseville Deputy Police Chief Mitchell Berlin declined to comment. The office of attorney Robert Seibert, whom the city has retained to defend both the city and Lee in the lawsuit, declined to comment.