ELPD excessive force case moved to Washtenaw prosecutor from Jackson

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 5:07 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An alleged case of excessive force involving the East Lansing Police Department will now be reviewed by the Washtenaw County prosecutor.

The officer in question, Andrew Stephenson, was originally cleared in June after investigators reviewed the police report. After national events shined a bright light on police use of excessive force, local prosecutors decided to take another look at the Dec. 2019 traffic stop where the incident happened.

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to assign the case to a special prosecutor.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jerard Jarzynka’s office was announced last week as the one that will review the case. Tuesday, that changed to Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie’s office.

No reason has yet been given for the change.

“Events of the past months, both locally and nationally, have shined the light on the kinds of contacts that police officers have with community members and the consequences, sometimes fatal, of use of force, Siemon said in a June statement.

Siemon went on to explain the use of force complaints involving two individuals, with two separate cases, and the East Lansing Police Department. In one of the cases, a warrant request was submitted and issued charging Anthony Loggins with resisting and obstructing a police officer from a traffic stop Dec. 29, 2019.

“When we reviewed the warrant request for Mr. Loggins, it was done based on the police report, which did not include information that Mr. Loggins had filed a use of force complaint,” Seimon said. “Our office requested the body camera video on May 29, 2020, and upon review of all the circumstances, determined that the charges would be dismissed and a dismissal was requested on June 3, 2020.”

Siemon said the case helps highlight the need to have a "heightened level of review" in cases involving resisting and obstructing warrant requests, regardless of whether a use of force complaint against the officer exists.

Siemon said the Ingham County Prosecutors Office will be developing and implementing "a heightened review of resisting and obstructing warrant requests and looking into the circumstances in more detail before authorizing charges."

Siemon said in addition to developing best practices involving local reviews of use of force, the Ingham County Prosecutors Office will refer cases involving an "officer-involved shooting" or death, of an individual in police custody directly to the attorney general's office for review.

For cases that involved non-shooting/non-fatal use of force by police officer, the Ingham County Prosecutors Office said it will exercise discretion and consider referring cases for a special prosecutor to review those use of force cases involving potential charges against a police officer.

“Having a case reviewed by an elected prosecutor from another jurisdiction, one who does not work with the agency whose officer may have committed a criminal offense, can provide an extra layer of credibility and public confidence.,” Siemon said in her statement.

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