Family traumatized, community frustrated by now deleted LPD tribute

The post was taken down on Tuesday by Lansing Police at the direction of Chief Daryl Green and Mayor Andy Schor.
Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 4:49 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An annual social media post by Lansing Police sparked lots of controversy and broke open wounds for a family.

The post was taken down on Tuesday by Lansing Police at the direction of Chief Daryl Green and Mayor Andy Schor.

It read “we shall never forget” and honored the K-9 police dog, Sabre, killed on June 23, 1999.

LPD says it wasn’t intended to disrespect or hurt any citizens, but the family says that’s what it did.

“For them to constantly throw out praise for a dog, and understandably, it is a life, and all lives are important and all lives matter. But at the end of the day, a human life. A human life should be in front of a dog’s life at all times,” said Justin McKinstry.

Justin McKinstry is Aldric “AJ” McKinstry’s brother who was also killed January 23, 1999.

AJ McKinstry was shot 18 times by police during the incident. Police say he ran from them and broke into the basement of an abandoned home. The K-9 tried to capture him. Police claim AJ killed the dog.

“There’s not one person on earth that has made a mistake?” asked Justin McKinstry. “There’s not one person on earth that has not done something that they regret? What if that one thing that you did that was a mistake that you regret costs your life and it didn’t have to?”

The family is grieving again 21 years later, while others on the post cry out in frustration that the post was taken down. They wanted the tribute for Sabre to stay up.

“The sad part about it is is all the hate, and the anger that that people are actually you know commenting since the stuff that they’re saying about him not knowing the person that he was,” said Justin McKinstry.

He says AJ was his best friend, and he’s still outraged by how it happened.

“Aldric McKinstry Jr. did not deserve to die that night,” said Justin McKinstry. “Knowing that a person lost their life regardless if it was completely justifiable, if they were completely in the wrong... They still have family members, they still have children, they still have people that care about them. And the last thing they want to see is the glorification of something else.”

The family says glorifying the dog each year has only reopened painful wounds.

“I mean it’s a wound that never really has healed, it just scanned over and every time something like this, or his birthday or his death day, or anything like that comes up it’s an open wound again,” said cousin Darnell McKinstry. “To have to keep seeing that every, every year is, it’s not just hurting a family, it’s really hurting the whole community.

The family says they’re thankful the post is gone, but the damage is done.

“I don’t care what; You still honor that human first, you can’t honor one without the other. So if you’re going to honor Sabre, you honor AJ,” said his aunt Chiquita McKinstry-Dismuke.

News 10 reached out to Lansing police and Mayor Andy Schor and they declined to interview, choosing to send statements instead.

Statement from Mayor Schor:

It was brought to my attention by members of the community that the Lansing Police Department posted their annual social media memorial regarding Police K9 Sabre’s end of watch over the weekend. I spoke with Chief Green and he agreed with me that the post had to be deleted. It did not accomplish what they intended, but instead brought pain to members of our community. Because this was posted on an official government account, I consulted with the City Attorney’s Office regarding policies about deleting official posts, then talked to Chief Green about removing it from the LPD Facebook page as soon as possible.”

Statement from Chief Green:

“After talking to Mayor Schor, we both agreed that the social media post regarding Lansing Police K-9 Sabre that went out over the weekend was causing too much harm to the Lansing community. I agreed with him to remove the post at this time. The annual post is intended to honor the memory of an LPD K-9 that lost his life in the line of duty, as we honor all LPD employees that have died in the line of duty, and was certainly not intended to disrespect or hurt any citizens.”

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