Thursday, February 2, 2023

66% of August use of force incidents were against young Black men, ELPD reports

October 6, 2022
East Lansing Police Oversight commissioners and ELPD Captain Chad Pride discuss police complaint investigations against the department. The meeting took place on Wednesday at the Hannah Community Center.
East Lansing Police Oversight commissioners and ELPD Captain Chad Pride discuss police complaint investigations against the department. The meeting took place on Wednesday at the Hannah Community Center. —
Photo by Wajeeha Kamal | The State News

East Lansing Police Department's August use of force report reveals 66% of cases in which officers used "reasonable force when encountering resistance" were against Black individuals 18 to 35 years old.

The Independent Police Oversight Commission convened on Wednesday, discussing the six out of nine use of force incidents reported during the month of August, where the subjects were Black males.

"What we want here is change. When I look at the use of force report, there's only nine...six of them are Black people and one is pulled over for speeding," Commissioner Kath Edsall said. "How many white people did they let pass them until they stopped that Black person from speeding?"

Out of the nine use of force incidents, five incidents in which force was used were against Black males under the age of 25.

According to the 2021 U.S. Census, people make up 7.2% of East Lansing’s population in comparison to 76.4% of white people in the city.

In addition, the Oversight Commission discussed a completed investigation into a complaint filed by Sean Flanagan, who alleged ELPD officers Jeff Horn and Brittany Monroe performed an illegal search and seizure of his nephew and his nephew's belongings after he had a seizure in front of Target on Grand River Avenue on May 23.

Flanagan's nephew was unnamed in the investigation documents. 

The complaint investigation conducted by ELPD Captain Chad Pride found that the officers violated ELPD's "exception to the search warrant rule," as Flanagan's nephew did not consent to the search of him and his belongings, was not in custody, under arrest or in need of assistance for the protection of his life during the search.

Flanagan's nephew was told by officers he needed to stay until paramedics checked him out, also violating ELPD policy regarding "persons refusing EMS care."

However, parts of the complaint investigation were redacted.

The Oversight Commission is not privy to certain statements made by officers investigated due to a collective bargaining agreement between the police union and management. This means an officer can elect to not have their statements included in investigation documents.

The Flanagan investigation concluded the "fair and impartial policing" policy was not violated, along with code of conduct, assault and battery, false imprisonment and harassment policies.

"How can we not say that that's what racially motivated? If it's not by the data, it's not my anecdotal information, then we're left with the officer saying, 'I'm not racist.' And that's a problem. That is not acceptable," Edsall said. "That cannot be the basis for making a certain determination, that our policing is not racially motivated. That can't be the answer."

After this complaint was filed, ELPD, joined by the East Lansing Fire Department, conducted training on city search and seizure policies and practices.

As a result of the investigation's conclusions, the Oversight Commission requested Officer Horn and Monroe's body-worn footage, records of both officers being in attendance at the East Lansing-sponsored cultural education and anti-racism training and records of complaints against them.

The Oversight Commission will meet again on Nov. 2 at the Hannah Community Center. 

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