EAST LANSING, Mich. — The East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) has forwarded a pending internal investigation of alleged excessive force during an arrest that was made in December 2019 to the Michigan State Police (MSP) for review and a potential criminal investigation.
Based on East Lansing Police Chief Larry Sparke’s initial review of the summary report from the pending internal investigation, one of the officers involved in the arrest has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. The officer will remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the potential criminal investigation by MSP.
The arrest took place on December 29, 2019 during a traffic stop off Lake Lansing Road near US 127, which resulted in the arrest of the driver. A complaint was filed on January 3, 2020, at which time an internal investigation of the incident was assigned to a sergeant in the ELPD Patrol Division. The internal investigation included reviewing all evidence/video footage and interviewing the complainant, the officers involved and witnesses.
The summary report from the investigation was provided to Police Administration on February 11, 2020, but review of the report was delayed due to a separate internal investigation that was initiated in connection to the arrest made in the 7-Eleven parking lot on Sunday, Feb. 9. ELPD aims to complete internal investigations within 90 days, but at times that can be extended due to various factors.
While reviewing the pending internal investigation report from the December arrest on Tuesday, March 10, East Lansing Police Chief Larry Sparkes discovered that one of the officers involved in the December arrest was also involved in the February arrest that resulted in an internal investigation into excessive force. MSP will be advised of the February arrest and investigation due to the officer connection. Additionally, City Manager George Lahanas is directing that all charges be dropped against Uwimana Gasito in light of this new information.
Chief Sparkes is also implementing the following:
- A review of ELPD’s current use of force techniques will be undertaken.
- Reporting changes will be put into place to ensure police administration is made immediately aware of any incident involving use of force by ELPD officers in the future.
- All complaints filed by the public will be immediately reviewed by the chief prior to being assigned to an investigator.
- An administrative review will be conducted to determine why these two complaints were not connected and any necessary corrective action will be taken.
“We recognize that there are things we need to do to improve our internal review process and we are actively working to make necessary improvements. We apologize to the community for this oversight,” said Chief Sparkes. “This remains a top priority for the police department and we are committed to being transparent with the public as we work through making these improvements.”
The internal investigation into the December arrest will remain pending while the MSP review and potential criminal investigation is conducted. MSP will be provided with the police report and all video footage from the incident. Due to this being an open investigation, the video evidence cannot be released to the public at this time.