East Lansing mayor orders release of police records

City Pulse wrestled ELPD over alleged excessive force footage 

Posted

THURSDAY, April 2 — The East Lansing Police Department has been ordered to release additional video footage and investigative reports tied to an alleged incident of excessive force. 

East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier today approved an appeal from City Pulse, under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, that mandates police officials to release portions of videos and investigative reports tied to an alleged incident of police brutality that occurred last winter. 

“It seems to me that at least portions of the videos can be released without interfering with the State Police investigation, without interfering with law enforcement proceedings, without depriving a person of the right to a fair trial or impartial administrative adjudication, and without constituting an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” Beier said. 

Officials have yet to release any details about an alleged incident of excessive force from December, except to note that Officer Andrew Stephenson is under Michigan State Police investigation and on paid leave after he was accused of using overly aggressive arrest tactics. 

Beier said officials will begin processing City Pulse’s request for more details immediately. 

Despite the existence of detailed investigative reports and video footage, the Police Department previously refused to release any details about the incident to City Pulse or the general public. 

In their denial to City Pulse last month, officials said the release of those records would’ve interfered with law enforcement proceedings and deprived Stephenson of “the right to a fair trial or impartial administrative adjudication” and would’ve constituted an invasion of privacy. 

That same official — Sgt. Adrian Ojerio — also attempted to charge City Pulse more than $500 to obtain video footage of another alleged incident of police brutality involving Stephenson in February. After a brief dispute, those tapes were released to the public at no cost. 

Officials ultimately cleared Stephenson of any wrongdoing tied to the February incident. 

Beier disagreed with the Police Department’s recent denial and has since demanded that additional information be released, possibly with redactions, as not to interfere with investigative efforts or pose an unwarranted invasion of Stephenson’s right to privacy. 

ELPD officials yesterday released data that showed officers had disproportionately stopped black drivers in the city over the last two months. Beier labeled the findings as “unacceptable” and has since urged officers to rethink their approach to traffic enforcement in East Lansing. 

“We are committed to making these changes and any other changes needed to make sure that everyone feels safe and welcome in the City of East Lansing,” Beier said yesterday afternoon. 

Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous and continued coverage as the investigation proceeds.  

City Pulse also needs your support now more than ever. Advertising — almost all our revenue —  has fallen sharply because of closures due to the coronavirus. Our staff is working seven days a week to help keep you informed. Please do what you can at this time to contribute to the City Pulse Fund. All donations are tax-deductible. 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here


Connect with us