Lansing cops shot a teenager 18 times. They mourn a dog 21 years later.

Lansing Police Department faces backlash over ‘disrespectful’ Facebook post 


MONDAY, Jan. 25 — The Lansing Police Department faced criticism over the weekend after it paid its respects to a police dog that was killed in 1999 but referred to a teenage boy who was reportedly shot by officers 18 times during the incident only as “the subject” in a recent tribute.  

Every year, Lansing cops create a Facebook post in which they remember K9 Sabre, a police dog that was shot and killed while attempting to capture Aldric “AJ” McKinstry Jr.,  an 18-year-old who ran from officers and later broke into the basement of an unoccupied home. 

“We Shall NEVER Forget” according to LPD’s memorial Facebook post from Saturday afternoon. “Officers attempted to talk the man into exiting the home but he refused to do so. As entry was made into the home, the subject opened fire. Sabre immediately attacked the subject as officers returned fire. Both Sabre and the subject were fatally wounded during the exchange.”

News reports state that McKinstry jumped from a second-story window, fled on foot with a gun and broke into the basement of an empty northside home on Alfred Avenue. Cops surrounded the home and reportedly warned McKinstry for five minutes before sending Sabre inside.

Officers claimed that McKinstry shot first and hit Sabre three times before cops reportedly returned fire, shooting McKinstry 18 times and hitting him six, including one to the forehead. News reports show that more than 600 people came out for McKinstry’s funeral. An internal investigation later cleared police in the shooting, noting the shots were fired in self-defense.

And 21 years later, Lansing cops still omit McKinstry’s name from their dog-focused tribute. Hundreds of comments followed online, with many alleging that the recent Facebook post unfairly focused much more on the death of a dog rather than the teenager who was killed.

“To memorialize a dog when a human life was lost is disgusting,” remarked Ashley Phenicie.

Added Amanda Thomashow in another comment: “This is in super poor taste. A human lost their life that day too and referring to them as ‘the subject’ while you honor a dog that died attacking them is super dehumanizing. Super bummed any of my tax dollars go to you.”

“Perhaps a memorial for the countless humans killed by police would be more appropriate,” said Marie LaHoney in the comment section. “You people are literally oblivious. Read the room.”

Local activist and firefighter Michael Lynn Jr. was a close friend of McKinstry. He posed questions to Mayor Andy Schor about the recurring memorial in June, asking why a dog deserved a tribute without “any notice of the child that was murdered” by cops in Lansing. 

“I’m sick of seeing that every year,” Lynn told Schor. “I’m sick of seeing you guys put that dog up on a pedestal when my brother was killed by the Police Department during that same event.”

Schor apologized the next day for failing to acknowledge McKinstry’s death in the 2020 tribute, noting at the time that he didn’t “have all the answers” but vowing to look into the situation. Seven months later, the memorial post appeared again without mentioning McKinstry’s name.

Following the backlash in the comments online, the Police Department updated a few lines to the post to clarify that the “intention of this post was not to disrespect or harm any citizen.”

“The post was to honor the memory of a LPD K-9 that lost his life in the line of duty, as we honor all LPD employees that died in the line of duty,” police officials explained. “We recognize that we must all be vigilant to ensure that no one loses their life due to gun violence.”


3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Sherri Wiegman

I would like to know why this “article” wasn’t representative of the facts involved in the case. Your headline does an injustice to the officers involved in this case. Your reporter apparently takes the easy route in “reporting” and does not investigate.

This case was investigated by a panel, which concluded it was a justifiable use of force. The Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office concluded it was a justifiable use of force. The prosecutor at that time was Stuart J. Dunnings III, a black man. The Chief of Police at LPD, Chief Robert Johnson, also a black man said and was eventually supported by the findings of the prosecutor and the panel, it was a justifiable use of force and stood by his officers.

Was this in your article? No, because you are pandering to emotions and neglecting a real reporters and a real and worthy newspapers obligation, to report facts.

Mr. McKinstry, like all of us made choices the night he died. Obviously, he could have made some better choices and no one needed to be harmed.

It would be nice to see some quality reporting from the City Pulse, but I am not going to hold my breath.

Wednesday, January 27
K Lafler

18 times. Sounds like target practice. Of course LPD is well known for excessive use of force. Remember the African American teenager at the Bank of America branch on MLK.? all she had was a knife. Non lethal could have been used. No, they wasted her. Sounds like they have fun.

Thursday, January 28

I'm getting SO sick of our City bowing to the demands of people like this.The dig served as a police officer and did an outstanding jib until this supposed NON criminal....with a gun....shot the dog. Since when do we have to acknowledge a CRIMINAL when a tribute is made to a fallen officer? Do we pay "tribute" to the assassins of Lincoln...Kennedy... Martin Luther King on their days of remembrance?Why the flock should we be required to mention THIS criminal??No matter what his family and friends "think".... he DID have a gun...he was shooting it and it could easily have killed a human police officer that day along with this magnificent dog! Its interesting how they experience this tunnel this shooter should have been " excused for thus incident.... but UT doesn't change the fact that he KILLED a valuable dog...a "police officer" and if they want to pay tribute to him they certainly have that right.No-one would stop THEM from attempting to do the same for their criminal family member.

Thursday, January 28

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