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Man claiming police brutality scheduled for court

Published: Feb. 28, 2020 at 2:20 PM EST
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Uwimana Gasito has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct stemming from a Feb. 9 incident outside a 7/11 in East Lansing.

Gasito will be in court next on March 19 for a pretrial in 54-B District Court in front of Judge Richard Ball.

Uwimana Gasito was arrested for intervening police officers while they were doing an arrest. Several days later, Gasito posted photos to Facebook claiming that he was assaulted by police for recording his brother being arrested. He also claims he was unlawfully arrested.

He told News 10 that he and his brother were unlawfully arrested and just wants justice.

"They came and put handcuffs on me. At first, I was scared because I didn't know why they arrested me so I was resisting a little bit and then all of a sudden they drop me to the ground," said Gasito.

He said he and his brother were just going to 7/11 to pick up a drink when a guy accused him of touching his girlfriend and a fight broke out.

In a matter of minutes the East Lansing Police showed up.

"While recording - three officers arrested me. They threw me to the ground. While I was on the ground in handcuffs, the officer was pushing my head into the ground, scraping my forehead back and forth," the teen said in his Facebook post.

He said all of this came about because he was recording the officer who was trying to arrest his brother.

"Police brutality is real. This is my story. This is my truth. This is my pain," he said in his post.

The ELPD released a statement to News 10 in response to the incident.

"The East Lansing Police Department has proactively initiated an internal investigation into an allegation of alleged excessive force during an incident that occurred early in the morning on Sunday. Feb 9 in the parking lot of 7-Eleven in downtown East Lansing.

ELPD takes allegations of this nature very seriously and is actively investigating the incident, including gathering statements from all involved and reviewing video footage. ELPD leadership expects professionalism from its sworn officers and the safety of the people within the community is our top priority. If it is discovered that something inappropriate occurred, appropriate action will be taken.

Once the investigation is completed, a special meeting of the East Lansing City Council will be held to provide a public review of all of the body cam and in-car footage from the incident and the video footage will be released at that time," East Lansing Police Chief Larry Sparkes said.

Body cam footage from the officers at the scene was released to the public on Feb. 27 at a special meeting, along with findings from the investigation.

At the meeting the East Lansing Police Department said there is

not enough evidence to prove officers used excessive force.

"Unfortunately, none of the videos show how the abrasion occurred and do not completely exonerate the officer from the allegation of excessive force. The videos do, however, confirm the statements of the officers involved that the individual was actively resisting arrest," said Larry Sparkes, ELPD Police Chief.

Several people came forward to say that the investigation was unfair.

"You can't have people judging themselves and investigating and be surprised and relieved that the investigation comes out that they committed no wrongs," said Christian Barbar, and East Lansing resident.

"It was definitely unfair because we didn't look at everything that happened we saw clips where it showed Tito being bad - it wasn't both ways. Like 'hey, the officers did this, this is what happened' so it was literally in their favor and that's not what you call evidence," said Farhan Sheikh-Omar, an East Lansing resident.

Police say they did what they had to do to control the situation.

Mayor Ruth Beier made a public statement saying she applauds the police department for conducting the investigation.

"I firmly believe in this case the East Lansing Police followed their procedure to the best they could to protect the rights they could of those who were arrested," Mayor Beier said,.

Police say that there was never any formal comment from Gasito claiming that he was assaulted.

"Mr. Gasito never claimed a use of excessive force by a police officer while he was in our custody of the East Lansing jail nor has he contacted our police department to make that claim as well," Sparkes said.

News 10 reached out to Gasito to see how he is doing now that the investigation is complete and hasn't gotten a response at this time.

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