Ingham Co. prosecutor will review EL police use of force incident, if asked

Anti-police brutality protest in East Lansing, June 2, 2020 | Joshua Valiquette

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon will, if requested, review the use of force by East Lansing Officer Andy Stephenson in an incident in February that left a Black man with injuries to his face. 

The decision comes after several protests in the Lansing area in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes after being accused of using counterfeit money.

Carol Siemon

Many East Lansing protestors have demanded that Stephenson be fired after his use of force against multiple African American men in minor traffic offenses.

Anthony Loggins Jr. and Uwimana “Tito” Gasito were injured after Stephenson used a “stabilizing” tactic by pressing his knee to the men’s heads.

Loggins was arrested after failing to use a turn signal and was arrested for using a suspended license on Dec. 29, 2019. 

Gasito was injured on Feb. 9, after filming his friend getting arrested outside an East Lansing 7-Eleven. Gasito was charged for intervening with police officers while they were making an arrest and was injured by Stephenson while being arrested. 

Both arrests and uses of force can be seen on video after both were made public by East Lansing Police.

Charges against both men were later dropped.

Siemon will potentially examine Stephenson’s use of force against Loggins that occurred last February. She has only commented on Loggins’ case at this time and not Gasito’s case.

Stephenson was the subject of five of the 12 total complaints lodged against the East Lansing Police since Jan. 1, 2018. All five complaints were made by men of color.

East Lansing City Council discusses racial bias after police excessive force allegation

Siemon, explaining the timing of her decision to possibly review the case against Stephenson, said, “We have never been asked to review the use of force against Mr. Loggins.”

Siemon said that at the time of Loggins’ arrest in February, her office simply received a police report and was requested to issue a warrant against Loggins. 

She did not watch the bodycam video of Loggins’ arrest and the use of force used by Stephenson until last week. 

Anti-police brutality protest in East Lansing, June 2, 2020 | Joshua Valiquette

Despite widespread coverage of the incident, Siemon said she did not realize the Loggins case was in her jurisdiction.

“It became more urgent with the protests,” she later said on the need to review the case. 

She concluded after watching the bodycam footage that there was a “disproportionate amount of force used for a relatively minor traffic offense” and asked for the case against Loggins to be dismissed. 

East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier said Siemon saying she would review the case shows the peaceful protests in East Lansing have made a difference. She added it is a result of African Americans refusal to let their voices be quieted. 

Farhan Sheikh-Oma was at the incident when Gasito was left with gashes in his head after he was arrested by Stephenson. He has been a prominent leader in the Lansing community who has continually called for justice for the damage done against both Gasito and Loggins. 

After organizing a rally of over 100 people in East Lansing for a protest Tuesday, he said that he will not stop until the system that allowed Stephenson to get away with these actions is changed.