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East Lansing City Council passes motion demanding AG Nessel drop charges against DeAnthony VanAtten

Police at Meijer in East Lansing
Posted at 12:26 PM, Sep 21, 2022

EAST LANSING, Mich. — At Tuesday night's meeting, East Lansing City Council passed a motion to demand Attorney General Dana Nessel drop the charges against DeAnthony VanAtten.

DeAnthony VanAtten, 20, was shot by two East Lansing Police Officers, Jose Viera and Jim Menser, in the parking lot of the Lake Lansing Road Meijer back in April.

Last month, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the following eight charges against VanAtten:

  • One count of carrying a concealed weapon
  • One count of receiving and concealing a weapon
  • One felony firearms charge
  • Four counts of obstructing an officer
  • One third-degree retail fraud charge

The officers who shot him faced no charges.

The Independent Police Oversight Commission requested that East Lansing City Council ask Nessel to drop the charges against VanAtten or have the case moved to the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office.

The motion passed 3-1 with council members Dana Watson, Jessy Gregg and Mayor Ron Bacon voting in favor.

Council member George Brookover voted against saying the city shouldn't discuss evidence and doesn't believe it's a "judicious use" of resources at this time.

Council member Lisa Babock abstained because she's the East Lansing 54B District Court judge candidate.

During the meeting, Watson said Nessel requested a meeting with her, Bacon and East Lansing's Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Elaine Hardy.

Both Watson and Bacon said it didn't seem likely Nessel would drop the charges, but Watson said it doesn't hurt to try.

“I am in support of the motion as it stands," Watsons said. "There are choices in the motion the attorney general can take, and I think it’s worth asking and worth getting a response that makes sense to our community.”

In a statement from the Attorney General's office, Communications Director Amber McCann said officer involved shootings are complex cases with "passionate reactions from the community."

"The Attorney General understands that there are those who disagree with the decision in this case, but she is duty-bound to evaluate the evidence and pursue appropriate charges in accordance with the law," McCann wrote.

City Council also voted to send a letter to Nessel requesting the investigation file for the case.

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