Tuesday, October 18, 2011
'Batman' sentenced to probation, ordered not to wear costume
"Mr. Williams completely understands 100 percent why he's here," his attorney Bryan Klawuhn told the court during his sentencing hearing in Emmet County's 57th Circuit Court Monday, Oct. 17. Klawuhn emphasized that Williams did not intend to use the weapons he possessed the night of his arrest and never intended to harm anyone.
Williams, 32, of Harbor Springs, was arrested May 11 after the Petoskey Department of Public Safety received a report of a man on the roof of a downtown business, located in the 400 block of East Mitchell Street, about 12:40 a.m., according to a Petoskey Department of Public Safety news release. Additional information supplied by central dispatch included the fact that the man was dressed as Batman.
Responding officers, including Michigan State Police troopers, saw "a male subject, dressed in a Batman costume, hanging off the western wall of the building," according to the release. The officers got onto the roof and pulled the man back onto it.
Officers detained the man and located a baton-type striking weapon, a can of chemical irritant spray and a pair of Sap (sand-filled) gloves, according to the release. The suspect was arrested for trespassing and possession of dangerous weapons.
In September, Williams pleaded guilty to one count of attempted resisting, obstructing a police officer in Emmet County's 57th Circuit Court and all other charges in the case were dismissed, per a plea agreement, Emmet County prosecutor Jim Linderman previously told the Petoskey News-Review.
Williams originally faced one count of carrying a concealed weapon, for allegedly carrying Freeze Plus P, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison or a $2,500 fine; one count of carrying a concealed weapon, for allegedly carrying a folding steel baton or bludgeon, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison or a $2,500 fine; one count of carrying a concealed weapon, for allegedly carrying weighted Sap (sand filled) gloves, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison or a $2,500 fine; one count of dangerous weapon -- gas ejective device, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and, or a $2,500 fine; one count of dangerous weapon -- miscellaneous, for allegedly possessing a bludgeon, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and, or a $2,500 fine; one count of dangerous weapon -- miscellaneous, for allegedly possessing a sand bag, a felony offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and, or a $2,500 fine; and one count of disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and, or a $500 fine.
Williams experienced a streak of fame after word of his arrest and the circumstances surrounding it spread throughout the community and area businesses touted Batman related promotions and products.
Klawuhn previously told the Petoskey News-Review his client is "harmless."
Emmet County chief assistant prosecutor Duane Beach did not make light of the case, however.
"The conduct in this case caused the Petoskey Department of Public Safety to take this case very seriously," he said.
Williams said he was inspired by a movement of citizens who dress up in super hero costumes and attempt to prevent crime and reach out to the homeless.
"I'm definitely not the only person that does it," he said.
Adding, "I understand I made a big mistake with carrying the items I was carrying. I'm not a violent person at all and I did not intend to use them."
Williams also told the Petoskey News-Review the reason he climbed onto the roof of the downtown Petoskey business that night was because he was being chased by a group of people and was trying to evade them.
"I just didn't want to deal with the harassment, so I hid on the roof," he said.
Circuit court judge Charles Johnson sentenced Williams to six months probation and a condition of that probation is that he is not to wear any costumes. The sentence also included six months in jail, two days forthwith, with credit for two days served, and the remainder held in abeyance.
"You've had your 15 minutes of fame and it's time for you to put it behind you," Johnson told Williams. "Your actions were certainly blown out of proportion in the media in certain ways."
After the hearing Klawuhn said, "We're just happy it's over. ... I think the sentencing is entirely appropriate."
Williams, who considers himself a costumed activist and has been involved with a group of like-minded people called The Michigan Protectors, said the costumes are intended to draw attention to the cause.
"It's just a way to draw attention to what we're trying to do," he said. "Make people pay attention to what's going on in their community."