East Lansing City Council demands that Nessel drop charges against man shot by police

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EAST LANSING – The East Lansing City Council on Tuesday agreed to “demand” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to drop charges against a man shot by city police officers in April, or, provided his case is settled. turned over to Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon.

Mayor Ron Bacon and councilors Dana Watson and Jessy Gregg voted in favor of the motion. Councilor George Brookover voted against and Councilor Lisa Babcock abstained because she is a 54B District Court judicial candidate running unopposed.

“These kinds of motions that come before us let our community know how we stand as a municipality,” Watson said during council discussions.

East Lansing City Council also voted to send a letter to Nessel requesting the investigation file for the case.

The Attorney General’s Office is not making available documents and records of open and pending cases, Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Nessel, said in an email Wednesday morning.

“Firings involving officers are complex cases that provoke passionate reactions from the community,” she said. “The Attorney General understands that there are those who disagree with the decision in this case, but she is under an obligation to evaluate the evidence and bring appropriate charges in accordance with the law.”

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DeAnthony VanAtten rides out of the Meijer on April 25, 2022 at 1350 W. Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing.

In April, 20-year-old DeAnthony VanAtten was gunned down by police officers Jose Viera and Jim Menser in a parking lot in East Lansing Meijer.

The shooting happened after police responded to a 911 caller’s report of a man with a gun entering the Meijer store on Lake Lansing Road. The caller told a dispatcher that the man was black and was wearing a mask that “covered every part of his face except his eyes”.

Police chased VanAtten from the store to the parking lot, where Viera and Menser fired bullets at him after an officer yelled that VanAtten had a gun. VanAtten was shot in the leg and stomach.

Nessel acquitted the officers of wrongdoing and made the announcement during a press conference in Detroit in August. She also announced seven charges, including four charges for assaulting or obstructing the police, and a felony against VanAtten.

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The motions came before East Lansing City Council at the request of the East Lansing Independent Police Oversight Commission, which had previously voted to ask Nessel to drop all charges against VanAtten or move the case to Siemon’s office. Siemon has criticized the disparate impact of the criminal justice system on black residents.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Watson said Nessel requested a meeting with Bacon and Elaine Hardy, East Lansing’s director of diversity, equality and inclusion.

Both Watson and Bacon said that after speaking with Nessel, it was unlikely that the charges would be dropped.

Bacon said he thinks the political implications of not charging VanAtten for Nessel, who is seeking a second term in November, may be too high. He said Nessel’s press conference announced by clearing officers Viera and Menser announcing the charges against VanAtten was “political theatre.” She wanted to show she was tough on officers, Matthew Viviano, an Ogemaw County deputy, criminally charged in connection with an incident in 2021, and tough on crime with the charges against VanAtten.

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“So this is really complicated for me,” Bacon said.

Brookover said he voted against the motion because charges are pending and a city cannot discuss evidence, either implicitly or explicitly.

“I believe in the work of the Police Commission… I truly believe it is one of our most critical advisory bodies, and it is one that has been put to the test before our very eyes,” he said.

However, he thinks that VanAtten should have his day in court. There is an internal investigation by the East Lansing Police Department and “I don’t think this is a wise use of our resources at this point,” Brookover said.

VanAtten’s entrance exam is scheduled for 9:00 am on 6 October.

Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or bairgood@lsj.com. follow her Twitter @bairgood123.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: East Lansing Council demands that Nessel drop charges against man shot by police

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