A protester from the group led by Paul Birdsong was involved in an altercation with a Lansing Police officer Friday, June 26, in the evening, near the intersection of Leslie Street and East Michigan Avenue.
Birdsong said that the group was being followed by multiple people from the Michigan Militia, who had been following them the past few weeks. One of those following, in a blue Ford Focus, threw a rock at one of the protester's cars.
“We got a call from Alex saying ‘Hey one of these guys is following me,’” Birdsong said. “The Focus threw a rock at Alex ... at his car. Alex called us. We immediately pulled over to where they were … trying to follow the agenda that everybody wants to give their license plates to the police, give them a chance to do something.”
After police were alerted and met the protesters, things escalated.
According to Birdsong, and multiple other witnesses who declined to be interviewed citing safety concerns, one of the protesters was giving his statement to the officers, including Officer Davis. His girlfriend approached, unaware why he was talking to the police and began questioning what was going on.
“Alex was telling them ‘Hey this is what happened, the guys were following me, I called my friends, they showed up, the guys pulls in here and in the midst of all that they guy threw a rock at my car,” Birdsong said. “The cop says ‘Run me through that again,’ so as Alex was about to run him through it again, Alex’s girlfriend hops out the car. … As she’s walking up, she’s like ‘Why are you guys still here talking to my boyfriend? Why aren’t you over there doing your job? The guy is over there in the parking structure.'"
After this, Birdsong said that Davis aggressively shoved Alex and told his girlfriend to shut up.
“He shoves Alex — like shoves him, completely shoves him,” Birdsong said. “Alex is 12 o’clock. He shoves Alex to about nine o’clock and then says to her ‘You shut up and walk away.’”
Lansing Police Department released body cam footage of the encounter.
In the video released the officer, who Birdsong identified as Officer Davis, first said to the woman — Alex's girlfriend — to "Shut your mouth and get out of here. We're not doing that."
The protester, who Birdsong identified as Alex, then approached the officer keeping slight distance. Alex said the officer "I respect you, but as soon as you talk to my lady like that I don't." Then, the officer shoved Alex an arm-length back.
Following the shove, Birdsong yelled at the officer, asking him where his de-escalation training was. Davis then continued to take down the information from Alex.
After the incident occurred, Birdsong said he told Davis he had committed assault. Davis turned to him, pointed and said "Do you want to get arrested?" This interaction was not included in the body cam video.
After Davis returned to his vehicle and left, those still present went down to the Lansing Police Station and demanded to talk to a sergeant. Birdsong said the group wanted to press charges.
According to Birdsong, an officer came out from the station and took down his information. Soon after, Birdsong told a captain he wanted an investigation to be opened.
At 10 a.m. the next day, Birdsong said the captain called and told him that he started an internal investigation on the officer.
The Lansing Police Department did not respond to an email request to confirm whether an investigation has been started at the time of publication.