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Posted on: May 4, 2020

Michigan State Police Completes Review of ELPD Use of Force

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State Police (MSP) has completed its review of the use of force employed by officers with the East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) during two separate arrests on December 28, 2019 and February 9, 2020.

The cases were assigned to the MSP First District Special Investigation Division, which is tasked with conducting MSP internal criminal investigations and investigations involving outside law enforcement officers, among other sensitive cases. The MSP investigator was provided the ELPD case reports and all associated video in both cases. At the conclusion of the review, the investigator generated two case reports to document his findings.

The case report for the traffic stop and arrest that occurred on December 28, 2019 concludes that, according to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) use of force continuum and based on the MSP investigator’s training and experience, the officer’s use of force was appropriate to the individual’s level of resistance and in light of the totality of the circumstances. The case report for the 7-Eleven altercation and arrests that occurred on February 9, 2020 also concludes that the officer’s use of physical controls would be appropriate in light in totality of the circumstances, although the investigator does note in the report that it is not possible to see specific interactions between the individual being arrested and the officers.

Based on the findings of the MSP review, ELPD’s Response to Resistance Policy and current department-approved training guidelines, ELPD’s internal investigation into the December 28, 2019 traffic stop and arrest will be closed with an exonerated disposition. The officer placed on paid administrative leave will be re-instated.

ELPD leadership is currently reviewing the technique of “head stabilization” as a method to gain physical control over a resisting subject during an arrest. There has been informal direction that this technique has been shown to cause harm to arrestees and it should only be used in extreme, articulable circumstances. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, ELPD use of force training sessions in May have been rescheduled to the summer. During the next session, formal re-training on this technique will be undertaken. The possibility of suspect injury, environmental factors, practical techniques and having an articulable reason to employ head stabilization will all be part of this training effort. All ELPD officers will be part of this re-training.

Additionally, the East Lansing City Council plans to move forward with establishing a public safety citizen oversight commission, which is expected to be further discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting this May.

“In light of these arrests and the subsequent investigations, as well as the officer-initiated contact data and the community feedback we have received, we remain committed to moving forward with a public safety oversight commission as quickly as possible, and ELPD has also committed to implementing several departmental changes, some of which have already occurred,” said East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier. “We will continue to work to make all necessary changes so that everyone feels safe and welcome in the City of East Lansing.”

The MSP reports and ELPD documents related to the December 2019 arrest and investigation have been posted at: https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/2103/24859/Internal-Investigation---December-2019. The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office has formally requested that the video footage from the December 28, 2019 traffic stop not be released at this time due to the pending court proceeding. Under the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, the ICPO is required to take reasonable steps to prevent prosecutors and law enforcement from releasing information that would materially prejudice a pending criminal proceeding (MRPC 3.6). Once the pending criminal charges are resolved and the case is closed, video footage will be released to the public.  

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