East Lansing cops forced to release arrest video 

City Pulse wins another FOIA battle with city officials 


WEDNESDAY, May 13 — Video footage of alleged police brutality has been released by the East Lansing Police Department after an officer involved in the incident was recently cleared of misconduct accusations and found to have justifiably kneed a man’s head into the concrete. 

City officials announced earlier this month that Officer Andrew Stephenson would return from paid administrative leave after a Michigan State Police investigation determined he was entirely justified in using force to apprehend two suspects during arrests on Dec. 29, 2019, and Feb. 9. 

The departmental decision was made behind closed doors; Stephenson is back on the job. But until today, city officials had refused to provide any video footage of the Dec. 29 encounter. Today, after several appeals by City Pulse, the videos have been made available to the public. 

“In this case, the public has the right to know what did and did not happen during the arrest and disclosure is important to continuing the discussion with the public,” East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier, the final arbiter of all records requests filed with the city, decided today. 

Last month, Beier ordered the Police Department to release portions of videos and investigative reports from an incident during which Stephenson, a white man, had used force to arrest a black man with a suspended driver’s license that failed to signal as he left a local grocery store. 

The complaints led to Stephenson’s paid leave while the Michigan State Police examined the accusations. That investigation concluded earlier this month, exonerating Stephenson. Afterwards, officials still refused to release videos for fear of interfering with the criminal case. 

That decision was overturned this morning. Mostly unredacted videos are now available online. 

“I believe there was a valid reason for this traffic stop, that the officers conducted themselves professionally within training guidelines and used reasonable force for the situation they encountered to affect the arrest,” according to MSP conclusions from the recent investigation. 

Reports confirmed that three ELPD officers made a traffic stop on Lake Lansing Road at about midnight Dec. 29, 2019. A middle-aged black man — identified only as Anthony “The Can Man” and Mr. Loggins — had failed to signal while pulling out of a nearby Meijer, according to reports. 

Records showed officers were suspicious because Loggins’ car, a black Malibu, also matched the description of a vehicle that darted away from Lansing Township officers the night before.  

Loggins was allowed to retrieve insurance paperwork from his trunk, but officers pulled out a pair of handcuffs. Video shows Loggins yelling “come and get me” before officers pull him from the car and onto the parking lot. Stephenson is shown pressing his knee into Loggins’ back. 

Loggins then pleads with officers to stop being so rough. He doesn’t appear to resist arrest, at least after he was pulled out of the car and slammed to the ground. It’s unclear why Stephenson kept his knee pressed into Loggins’ head, but investigators found the tactic to be in line with protocol. 

Reports state that officers pulled Loggins from his vehicle — because he was resisting arrest — before taking him to the ground, where he scraped his forehead. Stephenson held a knee to the man’s back, but it was “nothing outside of ELPD’s training guidelines,” investigators had found. 

Officers requested charges of disorderly conduct and driving with a suspended license. Reports show those charges were dropped for two felony charges of resisting and obstructing a police officer, but it’s unclear how the case panned out in the courtroom. The suspect’s identity was not fully revealed in the police reports, making a reliable search of public court records impossible. 

In the meantime, the Police Department will review its “head stabilization” technique as a method to gain physical control over a resisting subject during an arrest. As recent incidents have shown, the arrest strategy has been shown to cause injuries and should be used sparingly. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, training sessions for use of force — including a formal retraining on the “head stabilization” technique — have been rescheduled to the summer. 

Beier said the City Council will also have a public hearing on May 26 to further discuss implementing a community relations improvement plan for the Police Department — including an independent review board for allegations levied against uniformed officers in the city. 

“We’re glad to see this result but it doesn’t mean that we still don’t have work to do,” Beier told CIty Pulse earlier this month. “I wouldn’t say the accusations aren't credible. They showed force, just not excessive force according to police procedure. That doesn’t mean we want that particular kind of force to be used in our community. That’ll be something we need to review.” 

Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous and continued coverage from the city of East Lansing.  


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