Michigan State Police Officer Exonerated In Excessive Force Allegations

Original Case Details

East Lansing Police Officer Andy Stephenson will be reinstated after the Michigan State Police have cleared him after a review of his actions during two different arrests. He was initially suspended for allegations of excessive use of force during multiple specific arrests. While he has had five separate complaints by citizens of excessive use of force since January 2018, none of these complaints have been sustained against him. Stephenson was alleged to have used excessive force on two black men in these incidents by using a “head stabilization” technique that is now up for review and retraining by the East Lansing Police Department. A city news release stated that while the technique has been deemed appropriate, it has been shown to cause harm to arrestees and should only be used in extreme circumstances. All East Lansing police officers will now be retrained on the technique with more of a focus on the arrestee and his or her physical well-being.

The Incidents In Question

• December 2019 Incident

In December or 2019, Officer Stephenson and another officer had responded to a request for backup from another officer who had a car pulled over and found that the man driving had a suspended driver’s license. When the officer told the man that he was being arrested for driving on a suspended license he is shown in the police video jumping back into his car and yelling “come and get me!” The three officers went and did exactly that, physically removing him from the car while threatening to use a taser. Officer Stephenson ended up wrestling the man to the ground and handcuffing him. During the struggle, the man allegedly bit the officer. The man was charged with a felony count of resisting arrest for his actions. He is still pending arraignment in the 54th District Court in East Lansing. The man’s name has not been released and his name has been redacted in the police reports made available.

• Uwimana Gasito Case

Uwimana Gasito was arrested by Officer Stephenson approximately a month after the December 2019 case mentioned above. Gasito was arrested in downtown East Lansing after his brother was involved in an altercation. During the time Gasito he was arrested, he continually complained about his eye bleeding and had medical gauze wrapped around his head in his arrest photo. He complained that he was the victim of excessive force by the East Lansing Police Department and community members rallied behind him. The Michigan State Police who conducted a review of this case handled found that Gasito stayed very close to officers during the incident while being warned to move back several times. The review also determined that Gasito himself was “loud, assertive, and confrontational” to the officers. The Michigan State Police determined that the use of physical force was necessary and appropriate when taking all of the circumstances into account. Charges related to this incident were later dropped against Gasito.

A recent studying showing racial bias in police stops within the East Lansing Police Department has put many within the department on the defensive. Even though black people only make up 8% of East Lansing’s residents, they account for 22% of police-initiated stops during a two-month study of department statistics. East Lansing Mayor Ruth Beier promised change in stating that the data is showing a lack of impartiality towards black people, and that lack of impartiality is unacceptable.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been the victim of excessive force or brutality by the police, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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