WEDNESDAY, JULY 8 — The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office is now tasked with deciding whether a white East Lansing Police Officer accused of using excessive force last year against a Black man at a traffic stop will face criminal charges over his allegedly unnecessary brutality.
A spokesman for the Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon’s office said today that a warrant requesting charges against ELPD Officer Andrew Stephenson has been assigned to Jackson County Prosecutor Jerard Jarzynka. Jarzynka couldn’t be reached today.
Stephenson, who was accused of excessive force, was cleared of any alleged wrongdoing in May after a Michigan State Police investigation determined that he was entirely justified in using force to apprehend two Black suspects — one on Dec. 29, 2019, and another on Feb. 9, 2020.
Several days later, as videos of Stephenson appearing to kneel on a suspect's neck circulated in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, MSP backtracked and requested Stephenson face some criminal charges over the incident. Siemon asked to be recused. Jarzynka now has the case.
Police reports confirmed that three officers, including Stephenson, made a traffic stop on Lake Lansing Road on Dec. 29, 2019. A middle-aged black man, since identified as Anthony Loggins, allegedly failed to signal while pulling out of a nearby Meijer. Loggins, after allegedly resisting arrest, was pulled out of his vehicle and sustained injuries after hitting the concrete.
Although charges against Loggins have been dismissed, MSP initially found that Stephenson’s holding his knee to the man’s back and neck was “nothing outside of ELPD’s training guidelines.” State cops apparently had a change of heart by June. Those requested criminal charges against Stephenson are now on Jarzynka’s desk. He couldn’t be reached today.
Stephenson remains on the job, assigned to the Detective Bureau.
In the meantime, ELPD is continuing to review its “head stabilization” techniques as a method to gain physical control over a resisting suspect. As recent incidents have shown, the arrest strategy has been a cause of injuries and should only be used sparingly, if at all, in policing.
East Lansing defense attorney Mike Nichols, who represents Stephenson, has called on prosecutors to quickly clear his client of any charges related to the incident. He contended the videos showed that Stephenson followed training to “bring the subject safely into custody.”
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