Sunday, September 19, 2021

ELPD sends internal investigation of alleged excessive force to state police

March 11, 2020
An East Lansing Police car, photographed on March 10, 2020.
An East Lansing Police car, photographed on March 10, 2020. —
Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

The East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, has sent a pending internal investigation of alleged excessive force to Michigan State Police for a potential criminal investigation, the city announced Wednesday.

This follows allegations of police misconduct during an arrest made in December 2019, where Uwimana Gasito, or Tito, posted to Facebook alleging he was assaulted by an ELPD officer while filming his friend’s arrest. 

An investigation into the incident February found the allegations to be “not sustained,” with no sufficient evidence for the claim to be proven or disproven.

Though the summary report was provided to police administration Feb. 11, there was a delay in reviewing it due to a separate internal investigation in relation to an arrest made in the 7-Eleven parking lot Feb. 9.

During the review from the December arrest March 10, East Lansing Police Chief Larry Sparkes said he discovered one of the officers involved in the December arrest was also involved in the February arrest, leading to an internal excessive force investigation.  

Following a review of the summary report from the internal investigation by Sparkes, the officer was placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. 

City Manager George Lahanas has since motioned that all charges against Gasito be dropped.

“We recognize that there are things we need to do to improve our internal review process and we are actively working to make necessary improvements,” Sparkes said in the press release. “This remains a top priority for the police department and we are committed to being transparent with the public as we work through making these improvements."

The internal investigation into the December arrest will remain pending during the review by Michigan State Police and potential criminal investigations. They will be provided with the police report and all video footage from the incident, though video evidence cannot be released to the public during the open investigation.

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