Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon announced late today that she is asking Attorney General Dana Nessel’s help for review of the case of East Lansing Police Officer Andrew Stephenson, who has been accused of brutality by two African American men.
Earlier today, ELi broke the story that the Michigan State Police had delivered a warrant request on the matter to Siemon’s office on Wednesday.
“Today,” Siemon has now announced, “I filed a petition with the Attorney General’s Office asking to have this warrant request reviewed by a special prosecutor.”
Siemon’s announcement specifically related to Stephenson’s actions during the Dec. 2019 arrest of Anthony Loggins Jr.
During that arrest, Stephenson’s maneuvers injured Loggins’ face and eye. On the videos released, Stephenson can be seen kneeling on Loggins even after he is face-down and handcuffed, and Stephenson can be heard accusing Loggins of resisting arrest and having bitten him during the take-down.
Siemon did not elaborate on what exactly has raised her concern to this level. But numerous people watching the tapes of Stephenson’s actions in the Loggins arrest have raised questions about whether Stephenson was falsely accusing Loggins, on the running body cam recordings, of struggling and of biting him during the arrest in order to justify his own actions.
Before dropping the charges against Loggins, Siemon’s office’s charges against Loggins had included assaulting an officer, a charge probably related to Stephenson’s claim of a bite. Loggins has strongly rejected the claim he bit Stephenson, and notes he has no teeth in his upper jaw.
At this week’s City Council meeting, Mayor Ruth Beier openly stated that she now believes Officer Stephenson was making false statements about Loggins’ supposedly aggressive actions during the arrest “so he can justify what he’s doing” to Loggins.
Siemon’s statement today reiterated that when her office issued a warrant for Loggins, it did so on the basis of what ELPD provided – only written reports, and only those produced by police.
The material provided her office “did not include information that Mr. Loggins had filed a use of force complaint. Our office requested the body camera video on May 29, 2020 and upon a review of all the circumstances, determined that the charges [against Loggins] would be dismissed and a dismissal was requested on June 3, 2020.”
Now, Siemon’s office has turned its attention from Loggins to Stephenson – something that may never have happened without the killing of George Floyd and the national focus on use of force by police that has resulted from it.
Siemon says she wants to do better in the county to achieve “a consistent, fair review of any alleged criminal activities by police officers.”
The Stephenson-Loggins case, she writes, “helps highlight the need to have a heightened level of review in cases involving resisting and obstructing warrant requests, whether or not a use of force complaint against the officer exists. Nationally, it has been seen that what may appear to be appropriate and even innocuous on its face has a different interpretation when all evidence is viewed before a warrant is authorized.”
She notes that “‘Resisting arrest’ or ‘resisting and obstructing’ charges arising from police contacts involving minor offenses or due to an individual’s situation, such as homelessness, intoxication, or mental illness, are particularly concerning.”
Siemon also is seeking reform at the state level.: “I spoke with Attorney General Dana Nessel yesterday about how statewide practices may be evolving as attention is focused on the need for reform.” Siemon says she will submit any “officer involved shooting” (OIS) or death of an individual in police custody directly to the Attorney General’s Office for review.
Siemon says she will also use discretion for following this practice for other cases involving non-shooting/non-fatal use of force by police officers, as well, as she has just done with the Stephenson case.
Speaking to the national dialogue, Siemon writes, “It is our hope and expectation that our county law enforcement reduce the number of low-level police contacts and seek to address issues with a referral to social service agencies, instead of escalating the police contact, when such a referral would best serve the public interest.”
The arrest of Loggins began when he allegedly failed to use his turn signal coming out of a parking lot.
You can read Siemon’s full statement here.
ELi has a special section dedicated to our current reporting on East Lansing Policing. See it here.