2 Lansing officers on leave after girl struck during arrest

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski placed two officers on leave just 24 hours after a Facebook video surfaced showing an officer repeatedly hitting a girl in the leg.

Yankowski also identified the officers Saturday as Lindsey Howley and Bailey Ueberroth.

That now viral video stems from the arrest of a 16-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy by both officers on Friday.

The teens were wanted for probation violations, escape from custody, and runaway warrants, according to police.

Police detail moments leading up to arrest

Police say on Friday, officers were called to the 1100 block of Dakin Street to check on the teens. When they arrived, officers say the teens took off running. They were arrested a "short period" later.

When walking the teens back to the car, police say the 16-year-old girl resisted being arrested and removed one of her handcuffs.

"The suspect actively attempted to escape custody and was forced to the ground in order to control her," Yankowski said.

Officers had to physically carry the girl to the patrol car.

When the officers returned to the car, Howley helped Ueberroth try to get her inside the police SUV. Police say the 16-year-old "actively resisted" entering the car and kicked at one of the officers.

"(Howley) then uses strikes to the suspect in order to gain control," the police chief said.

The teen girl, who has not been identified because she is underage, was not hurt, according to police.

Investigation launched

Howley has been with the department for one year, while Ueberroth has worked for Lansing police for six months, police said.

In a statement, police said Saturday it is conducting "an Internal Affairs investigation regarding the actions of the officers during the arrest."

Lansing's police chief said the department made that decision after reviewing the officers' body cams, which were also released to the public on Saturday, "and obtaining additional facts of the case."

In a statement, the department said, "staying true to the department’s commitment to transparency and police legitimacy, Chief Yankowski is releasing the body-worn camera video of the entire police interaction."

Police say they blurred video in the body cams in order to "protect and safeguard the identity and rights" of the teens involved.

In the release, the chief also said " allegations or complaints against police employees are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated." The chief added the department holds employees to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.

You can view the body cam footage from Officer Lindsey Howley's perspective as well as that of Officer Bailey Ueberroth.

Depending on how the investigation turns out, the officers could face penalties ranging from "a counseling statement to termination," police said.

NAACP responds to arrests

On Friday evening, the Lansing branch of the NAACP released a statement about the girl's arrest.

“It is unfortunate that the police officer thought that punching the young teenage girl in the leg as shown in the video was the appropriate action to take as a means of forcing her into the police car. Without a doubt, the officer’s response was rushed and showed no tolerance or patience for resistance, which police often encounter. No time was spent trying to convince the girl to comply.”

The NAACP said it will discuss the incident with Chief Yankowski in "an effort to understand if the officer’s demeanor and methods follow the police department’s protocol and procedures."

Mothers speak to NEWS 10

On Friday, the mothers of the two teens arrested spoke to News 10.

Erica Gray, the mother of the teen boy, said she questions the moves by the officers.

“You guys doing this to them, how are they going to trust anybody. They're not gonna trust nobody (sic). How are they going to feel safe? They don't," Gray said.

Tonia Lilly, the girl's mother, disputed Lansing police’s claims her daughter had escaped from custody — or had a warrant.

You can see more of the interview with the mothers here.

In a news conference on Friday, Yankowski said “It is the policy of the Lansing Police Department that officers will only use force that is objectively reasonable and that is the standard that has been into our policy procedures."

The two teens are currently lodged at the Ingham County Youth Center.

Lansing police said it wants anyone with information or video of the incident to contact them at 517-483-4804 or via email at LPDinternalaffairs@lansingmi.gov.

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