Police chief: Lansing officers can learn from Minneapolis killing

Green ‘disgusted’ by cops that killed George Floyd, pushes for training

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FRIDAY, May 29 — Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green is disgusted over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and worries every night that local cops could have a similar incident without continued training in overcoming racial biases and how to de-escalate violence.

Green appeared last night as a guest on an episode of the local talk show and podcast “Merica 20 to Life Live” to respond to the recent Minneapolis incident. He also spoke about a recent shooting in Lansing that left one man dead and placed six local officers on administrative leave.

“I looked at that video with complete disgust,” Green said, referring to a clip of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck. “You’re going to have people that are outraged, and rightfully so. People should be outraged. We don’t want that to happen in Lansing. It happened in Minneapolis, but it has an effect on Lansing.”

Protests over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis Monday night have spread across the country, including a peaceful rally at the Michigan State Capitol yesterday from Legally Armed in Detroit.

Lansing City Councilman Brandon Betz also chimed in on Facebook: “I’m happy to see the pro-riot, anti-police sentiment among people in Lansing. Police kill our black brothers and sisters every year. It is unacceptable. Let’s work to reform the system now so that we don’t have to resort to violence to send the message in Lansing. Enough is enough. Black lives matter.”

Green said he sent a video of the incident and asked every officer in his department to watch it.

“For a police chief, I worry every night whether some officer with two or three years of experience does something like in Minneapolis,” Green added. “I have to be in their head as much as possible. We have to be aware of what happens in Minneapolis, what happens in Georgia, what happened with Eric Gardner. We have to be aware and see those things.”

Green said authorities across Greater Lansing are trained to know that applying sustained pressure to a suspect’s neck — especially a seemingly compliant one — is just bad policing. And it can be worse when other cops stand idly by as a complicit witness to excessive force.

“I just think there’s no excuse. This will directly affect policing as an institution,” Green said. “I don’t think this will happen in Lansing, but you’re talking about policies and procedures. We’re all trying to get better. We’re all trying to create a safer environment within our communities.”

Green stressed the importance of continued training on implicit biases and cultural sensitivity in order to prevent similar incidents of police brutality. And a robust internal affairs investigation is important to catch those that continue to violate department policies on discriminatory behavior.

Green also warned: “If you do something stupid like Minneapolis, you’re looking at a situation that could destroy the entire city. This is about protecting you. Me sending you to bias training? The objective is to make you a safer officer, both for yourself and for the rest of the community.”

African American officers compose about 13% of the Lansing Police Department. About 7% are Hispanic and 4% are Asian or Native American. The rest are white. And Green said that’s not enough to adequately reflect diversity and properly police a large city like Lansing.

“Just having one or two trainings a year is not going to get you what you need,” Green added.

On Tuesday, six Lansing police officers and a sergeant were placed on paid leave following a gunfight that left a local Hispanic man dead and an officer in the hospital with a gunshot wound, the Lansing State Journal reports. Jason Jesse Gallegos, 37, was shot and killed on the 900-block of Walnut Street after he reportedly exited a home and opened fire at local officers.

Green said officers responded to reports about an irritated and intoxicated man at about 7:30 p.m. where “seasoned negotiators” attempted to coax him out of the house for about 90 minutes. After the negotiations went south, Gallegos reportedly came out firing at about 9 p.m.

The investigation, as per department policy, is in the hands of the Michigan State Police.

“Unfortunately, this comes on the heels of Minneapolis,” Green said. “Whatever was going on in that young man’s head to come out and start shooting at officers, it’s difficult for me to understand. I really feel that for that family. That man had a mother and other family members.”

Green said the goal that evening — as with all attempts to de-escalate violent situations — was to get everyone out of the house safely and attempt calm negotiations with the armed suspect. Officers only tried to coax him outside to get Gallegos some mental health treatment, he said.

“This was a life that mattered,” Green added. “We’re all taking this very seriously.”

After the conclusion of a potential criminal investigation, Green said the officers involved will undergo counseling before returning to duty. And after that, an internal review will be conducted to determine what steps officers could’ve taken to keep Gallegos — and others like him — alive.

“You never want to unintentionally agitate. The intent is to let them calm down,” Green added.

Video footage of the recent incident in Lansing has not yet been released to the public but Green indicated that he plans to make it available as soon as possible, maybe by tonight.

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