No charges yet two months after destruction in downtown Lansing

Ingham Co. prosecutor weighs criminal charges amid LPD investigation

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FRIDAY, July 17 — Seven weeks after a protest against police brutality in Lansing left windows shattered on several buildings and a car burned to cinders on Washington Avenue, no one has been arraigned on any criminal charges.

LPD officers arrested a total of 13 people for various charges including arson, damage to property, vagrancy and resisting arrest. So far, the Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has only cleared two charges for disturbing the peace. And neither of those suspects have been formally arraigned for the crime while the police continue to investigate.

A spokesman for the Lansing Police Department said authorities are still investigating the woman who drove her car toward a crowd of downtown protesters May 31 as well as the people that eventually set it ablaze just blocks from the Police Department and the Michigan State Capitol.

Several videos posted on social media in the wake of the protests show the woman veering her car out of lanes of traffic, possibly to avoid contact with protesters, but also coming within just a few feet of large crowds of people marching west along Michigan Avenue. Some jumped away to avoid a collision. Rumors have swirled over whether the confrontation was intentional.

Those videos — as well as interviews with witnesses — were forwarded weeks ago to the county Prosecutor Carol Siemon for review of potential criminal charges, like perhaps reckless driving. And as of this week, none of those charges have been authorized.

And until those suspects are arraigned, Siemon said she won’t discuss the case.

The car, which was eventually flipped over and burned after Michigan State Police troopers escorted the driver away from the scene, could have played a key role in escalating the protests.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, in the immediate aftermath, said police only had to use tear gas to get demonstrators away from the burning car and “to prevent other things from catching fire.”

The tear gas was followed by a broken window at Chase Bank. The broken window was followed by more tear gas. By the end of the night, thousands of dollars in damage was done.

Social media videos and other first-hand accounts showed a white woman driving the car recklessly toward the march toward downtown Lansing, just missing several people that were otherwise peacefully walking back from East Lansing on Michigan Avenue toward the Capitol.

Twitter user @BrittonCollier captured a video of the woman — and her soon-to-be-burned car — outside of the Lansing Center on Michigan Avenue. It appears to show her speeding within an extremely close proximity of the march, later reversing and again nearly missing a crowd.

After the car became stuck in a crowd along Washington Avenue, troopers formed a circle to protect the woman from angry demonstrators. Other videos show protesters forming another circle around the police as other people shouted, claiming the woman had struck protesters.

Some demonstrators also contend the woman was shouting at them and telling them she had a gun before she was eventually led away by police, according to reports from WLNS and WNEM.

Officials said she has not been arrested or charged with any crimes stemming from the incident.

Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous coverage and more updates as they become available.

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