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Man shot by East Lansing police at Meijer in April faces 8 charges

Police at Meijer in East Lansing
Posted at 9:27 AM, Aug 24, 2022

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The State of Michigan has filed eight charges against DeAnthony VanAtten, a Black man shot by East Lansing Police Department officers in the Lake Lansing Road Meijer back in April.

According to court documents, VanAtten faces the following eight charges:

  • 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

Black Lives Matter of Lansing Leader Sean Holland said they weren't surprised by the announcement.

“We are heartbroken," Holland said. "We’re not like shocked, like oh my god, but this decisions says a lot about our criminal justice system and the bias and the corrupt nature of it. This mentality that we have and the target towards African American men in our community and it’s very troubling.”

Attonery General Dana Nessel announced they will not seek charges against East Lansing Police Department Officers Jose Viera and James Menser for their role in the shooting.

“Michigan law does give a police officer the right to use the degree of force that is reasonable under the circumstances to effectuate an arrest and protect themselves and others while making that arrest,” said Nessel. “If a person uses force within our state's definition of self-defense, their actions are justified under the law, and they are not guilty of a crime.”

In a statement from the Capital City Labor Program, the labor union representing East Lansing Police officers, they say they now question the Independent Police Oversight Commission in the city, who had been reviewing the evidence provided to them.

"The decision of the attorney general to charge the suspect with multiple firearm-related felonies, while simultaneously clearing the officers of any wrongdoing, should lead members of the East Lansing community to question both the objective judgment and purpose of the Independent Police Oversight Committee," the statement said. "The officers involved in this unfortunate incident are dedicated public servants. They acted dutifully and legally in protecting the public on the afternoon of April 25."

The East Lansing Police Department also released a statement saying they will now begin their internal investigation of the shooting to determine if any officers involved in the incident violated any terms of the department’s policies or protocols.

The two officers currently on paid administrative leave will be returning to work, and they will be initially assigned to non-patrol duties during their transition back to serving with ELPD.

“An officer-involved shooting is never and should never be taken lightly,” said East Lansing Police Chief Kim Johnson. “We understand that this has been extremely difficult for our community, and, while this situation was challenging, it also provides us with the opportunity to reflect, grow and improve.”

Holland said they're upset that the police officers who shot VanAtten aren't being held accountable.

“This is about accountability, this is about police violence, this is about when police break the law, when they break the law and there’s no accountability," Holland said. "I mean it was clearly indicated and proven they broke city ordinances.”

Nessel said Viera and Menser believed the man who was shot was an immediate danger.

"They took the measures that were necessary to eliminate an immediate and extreme threat," Nessel said. "In doing so, they protected their own lives and the safety of the members of the public, who were present at the location."

Nessel said the retail fraud charge pertains to shop lifting and leaving a store without paying for an item. The degree is determined on the cost of the item and previous criminal record of the person.

Nessel said their investigation found VanAtten didn't pay for "several ears of corn."

Nessel said that the gun VanAtten reportedly possessed was reported stolen.

"When our department reviewed everything in regard to this case, we were confident that Mr. VanAtten possessed this firearm that we later understood to be a loaded weapon with a round in the chamber, and he was running through the parking lot with that firearm in his hand," Nessel said.

Holland said this isn't about hating anyone it's about fighting for what they believe in.

“This has nothing to do with hate at all," Holland said. "This has to do with the scales of justice always lean in the direction of the most vulnerable and DeAnthony was vulnerable.”

And he said they'll continue to do so.

“We are still naming police violence, we’re still calling for police accountability and we’re still fighting to end qualified immunity," Holland said.

East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said they respect the attorney general's decision and will continue to improve public safety and other services the city provides.

“We will continue to work with our community and the East Lansing Independent Police Oversight Commission to build trust and transparency in our public safety operations,” Lahanas said in a statement.

At this time, the AG department will not be releasing additional materials or evidence related to the investigations.

VanAtten is currently in custody at the Ingham County Jail. He will be arraigned under warrant today at 2:30 p.m.

We reached out to the Independent Police Oversight Commission, but did not hear back.

Stay with FOX 47 News as this story develops.


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