ROCHESTER HILLS (WWJ) – A 22-year-old man accused of deliberately running down an Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy on Thanksgiving has been charged with premeditated murder.
Christopher Joseph Berak was arraigned via video Saturday morning in Rochester Hills’ 52-3 District Court on charges of first-degree premeditated homicide and murder of a peace officer. Bond was denied for Berak, who is currently on probation. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf and he was ordered to jail ahead of a probable cause conference on Dec. 4.
Berak was taken into custody early Thursday morning after the fatal collision at M-15 and Seymore Lake Road in Brandon Township. According to police, 50-year-old Deputy Eric Overall was outside his squad car around 12:30 a.m. preparing to deploy “stop sticks,” designed to deflate vehicles’ tires, when he was struck by Berak’s fleeing vehicle.
Berak allegedly made a nearly 90-degree turn before hitting Overall. Police say Overall was “well off” the roadway in a grassy area when the collision occurred and that Berak deliberately ran him down by swerving to hit him. Berak’s vehicle rolled over after the crash and he was taken into custody at the scene.
Prior to the collision, Berak was being pursued by the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Scott McKenna told reporters Friday that Berak went to the jailhouse and made some concerning statements — telling authorities that he was “God” and he was there to break out one of his “sons.” He drove away and was followed by Lapeer deputies into Oakland County. Authorities described the resulting pursuit as “controlled.”
A court-appointed attorney said Berak — who has four prior convictions for possession of marijuana and resisting and obstructing police — has a history of mental health issues and is currently under the care of a psychiatrist. He lives with his parents in Macomb Township and works at a local pizzeria.
If convicted as charged, Berak faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A GoFundMe account to help Overall’s family with unexpected expenses has raised more than $48,000 in just one day.
A public visitation and funeral are planned for Overall, a 22-year sheriff’s office veteran. The visitation will be held 3-8 p.m. Monday at Mount Zion Church, 4900 Maybee Rd., in Independence Township. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church. A private procession for family and co-workers will follow the service.
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