Lansing mayoral candidate Larry Hutchinson Jr. is still paying off more than $1,000 in court costs and fines after a drunken driving arrest last year by Clinton County Sheriff’s deputies.
Deputies were dispatched to the corner of Colony and Shepardsville roads near St. Johns at 9:36 a.m. Sept. 1, 2020, following reports of a car blocking the road and an intoxicated driver. Hutchinson was seated alone, playing music in the passenger seat of a rented red Dodge Charger. Dashcam footage showed Hutchinson step out of the vehicle and stumble after the deputy approached.
Video footage and police reports show that Hutchinson was irritated and verbally aggressive on the scene after deputies arrived, several times wandering into the oncoming traffic lane and attempting to show his arresting officers something on the driver’s side of his rented vehicle.
On several occasions, Hutchinson cussed at deputies and cited his constitutional rights. He demanded to know whether he was being arrested or detained and walked away from the cops.
After about 15 minutes, the officers can be heard on dashcam footage determining that Hutchinson is a risk to his own and others’ safety for continuing to walk into lanes of traffic. Interactions between Hutchinson and deputies are not visible in the last five minutes of the tape.
While officers kept a distance from Hutchinson and often had their hands at their sides, Hutchinson can be heard accusing officers of “running up” on him, increasing his agitation.
The incident occurred about four months after George Floyd was murdered by police in Minnesota and followed a summer of increased racial tensions and distrust between Black mid-Michigan residents and law enforcement. In an interview with City Pulse this week, Hutchinson, a Black man, alleged the interaction with law enforcement was based on his race.
Hutchinson also alleged — but the video does not show — that a sergeant on scene put his arm around his neck. He also said that he has since filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights alleging that he was racially harassed during the incident by sheriff’s deputies. MDCR spokeswoman Vicki Levengood confirmed the agency had an open case involving the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and Hutchinson.
Clinton County deputies do not wear body cams. The incident report associated with his arrest indicates that only one dashboard camera was operating and saved during the contact with Hutchinson. Three deputies, a sergeant and a Michigan State Police trooper were involved.
Hutchinson alleged there were at least 10 law enforcement officers on hand and a helicopter. Reports do not mention the involvement of any helicopter air support provided for the incident.
Hutchinson also told City Pulse that there was no reason for last year’s drunken arrest.
“I wasn’t even driving the car,” he explained. “I was in the passenger seat.”
Hutchinson initially declined a preliminary breath test but complied at the Clinton County Jail. It showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.189%. Hutchinson also declined to consent to a blood draw, so officials also obtained a warrant to test his blood. Reports don’t include those results.
Deputies also seized an eighth of a gram of marijuana from Hutchinson.
All told, he was charged with two counts of operating while intoxicated and one count of being a disorderly person. All three charges are misdemeanors. On Dec. 8, Hutchinson pleaded guilty to one count of operating while intoxicated. In exchange, the other two charges were dismissed.
Court records also show that he was sentenced to one day in jail and fines and fees of $1,282.
This week, Hutchinson still maintained that he did nothing wrong.
Court records also show that he was expected to make payments beginning in February, with a final payment of $611 in February 2022. Records showed he still owed more than $1,000 this week.
Hutchinson is one of six candidates running for mayor in the August primary. The top two vote-getters will run against each other in November.
This is also not Hutchinson’s first chase for elected office, including for positions in Genesee County, the Lansing City Council and the 23rd Senate district as a Democrat. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum has also repeatedly cautioned Hutchinson over campaign finance rules — including a lack of paid-for disclaimer line on printed materials and writing on U.S. currency.
Hutchinson said he places handwritten and printed signs on city telephone poles, which is a violation of city ordinance. City Clerk Chris Swope warned candidates about the issue this month, noting that signs placed in any public right-of-way were subject to immediate removal.
Hutchinson said he does not believe that he is violating city ordinances with his signage.
Hutchinson’s encounter with Clinton County deputies last year was not his first run in with cops. In the early 90s, he was convicted of three felonies — possession of a controlled substance, malicious destruction of police property and assault with intent to do great bodily harm.