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Lansing fires police officer accused of excessive force

Posted at 3:24 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 15:52:05-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing Police Department has fired an officer accused of excessive force.

Officer Alex Rojas was terminated for his actions during a Nov. 10 arrest on Baker Street. Two other officers involved have been exonerated, the department said.

"After reviewing the thorough internal investigation in this matter it’s clear Officer Rojas’ initial interactions on Baker Street were unprofessional, aggressive, and escalated the situation, causing other officers to use higher levels of force," said Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green in a statement. "The Department recognizes the negative impact this incident had on the community and is currently reviewing its related policies and training.”

Responding to a street confrontation in the 800 block of Baker Street on Nov. 10, Rojas encountered Johnathon Hardy, who had been involved in the conflict, inside McNamara's Party Store, according to an account written by Ingham County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mike Cheltenham.

After Hardy told Rojas "don't play with me" and later moved toward him yelling, Rojas pushed Hardy, telling him to stay back, Cheltenham wrote. The two excanged words and Rojas decided to arrest Hardy for loud and boisterous conduct. Hardy resisted arrest, at one point grabbing Rojas and pushing him into a wall. In the ensuing struggle, an officer hit Hardy with a stun gun and Rojas and two other officers struck Hardy.

The Ingham County prosecutor's office looked into the incident but elected not to press charges against any of the officers involved.

"While much of the police behavior was concerning in light of our changing societal norms, and historical wrongs, the officers’ actions did not rise to the level of a violation of the criminal law, when reviewed in light of laws and policies in place at the time of this event," Cheltenham wrote in an email to state police.

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Tianna Jenkins

12:23 PM, Jan 12, 2021

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