Black Community Responds to Charges Against Lutz

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

When Eaton County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Lutz reported he was shot March 20, he claimed a black man pulled the trigger. The news that Lutz is being charged with making it up has generated a lot of anger.

The lines have been lit at Brant Johnson's WQHH-FM talk program ever since word of the new development in the Lutz case surfaced.

"They were shocked that an officer would accuse a black man of such a terrible crime," Johnson said.

Callers reactions ranged from outrage over how blacks in the area may have been treated in the wake of the shooting...

"Suppose there was a description of a black man...and now a man is locked up, saying I wasn't there, I didn't have anything to do with it," one caller said.

...To calls for action.

"This man needs to make a public apology," another said.

There is similar concern and disgust among leaders in Lansing's black community.

"I'm upset that a police officer could spit this type of venom at the black community, when he knows he committed the crime," Lansing NAACP President James Gill said in an interview in Perry Monday night.

Gill says he's outraged by the revelations about Lutz not only as president of the Lansing NAACP -- but as a detective with the Lansing Police Department.

"As a fellow police officer, I think he should be punished to the extent of the law...and be ordered to pay back the money used in the search," he said.

Gill says in addition to reinforcing stereotypes about blacks and crime, Lutz's description of a fake suspect -- "a phantom black man," Gill says -- had real consequences...

"That description may have fitted someone on the community. And a person could have been arrested because of it," he said.

Gill says the phones are already ringing at Lansing NAACP headquarters.

Just as the phones conitnue to ring back at the WQHH studios in DeWitt.

"This will be a hot topic ... for two days in addition to today. This is going to be on people's minds for a long time," Johnson said.

Gill says, for now, he doesn't seen any lawsuits arising from the recent revelations.

-- in DeWitt and Perry, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.


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