Friday, February 28, 2020

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The East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, has found the investigation into an allegation of excessive force at the department to be "not sustained," meaning there was insufficient evidence for the claim to be proven or disproven. This was announced at a public hearing Thursday evening at 54B District Court.

The special meeting stems from an incident in which Uwimana Gasito, or Tito, posted to Facebook alleging he was assaulted by an ELPD officer while filming the arrest of his friend.

In response to the viral post, ELPD Chief Larry Sparkes released a statement announcing an investigation into the incident.

The incident concerned many community members, sparking a protest against police brutality on Sunday.

ELPD Captain Chad Connelly began an investigation into the incident on Feb. 14 after the department received notification of Gasito's viral Facebook post. ELPD said Gasito did not appear for an interview and did not file a complaint except for the Facebook post.

The investigation was referred to Connelly by Sparkes and was set to determine if the department's Use of Force Policy had been violated. Materials for the investigation included interviews with all officers involved and civilians, a review of footage and a review of all police reports.

At the meeting, ELPD Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez showed footage from officer's body cameras and surveillance from the 7-Eleven located at 311 Grove Street.

The footage created a timeline of events from when officers arrived on the scene as well as the arrest of Gasito and his friend. According to the investigation, officers observed three individuals in a physical altercation at the 7-Eleven.

Officers moved in to arrest all three individuals for disorderly conduct and Gasito resisted arrest by multiple police officers, Sparkes said.

Sparkes said footage of Gasito's arrest was inconclusive on the question of excessive use of force because law enforcement could not conclude how Gasito got his injuries.

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