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LPD wants to improve relations with community after excessive force investigation

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Posted at 3:53 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 15:53:05-04

LANSING, Mich. — Chief Yankowski of the Lansing Police Department, addressed the media on Tuesday with an update to the department's investigation into use of force by officers when detaining a teenage girl.

Officers were called to the scene on June 14 at 11:26 a.m. by orders from a judge to apprehend two suspects, a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl.

Officer Howley was able to secure the boy and then went to assist Officer Ueberroth who was trying to restrain the female.

The female had tried to escape and force was used to restrain her and put her in the patrol car.

Body cam footage was released of the incident by the Lansing Police Department within 24 hours of the arrest.

During the press conference on Tuesday, Yankowski played a 7-minute video reel of the body cameras from both officers, synced up so the media could see what happened from the moment officers arrived on the scene until the girl was put in the cruiser.

Yankowski said that Internal Affairs took over the investigation into the officer's tactics and that the officers were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

He said these were "allegations of a serious nature."

He also responded to comments on social media about the officers and said that those comments weren't true.

He said that Officer Ueberroth , who apprehended the female subject, has been with the LPD for 6 months.

Yankowski said that Ueberroth should have used radio communication and called dispatch about the situation, even requested back up.

He said that Ueberroth should have done a better job with handcuffing the girl so they couldn't have slipped off.

And, he shouldn't have escorted the girl to the car in the way that he did.

However, Yankowski added that his use of force was deemed reasonable.

There were some other things Ueberroth could have done better as well, like spending more time talking to the female at the patrol car and pulling her to the center of the backseat before belting her in.

Yankowski said that Ueberroth was given an unsatisfactory performance violation, a written reprimand, probation for 6 months, and 10 hours of training on combative suspects and tactics.

Officer Howley has had 13 months with the LPD.

She went to assist Officer Ueberroth and helped carry the suspect to the patrol car. She was sworn at and kicked by the suspect.

Once the teen was in the car, she stuck her leg out to keep the door from closing.

Officer Howley applied 2 strikes to the suspect's thigh with a closed fist and said, "break your leg."

Yankowski explained that what she did was procedure, and that "break your leg" is a term to tell the suspect to bend your knee or break away from the door. It was not meant as a threat that the officer was going to break the suspect's leg.

She followed that up with more strikes to the thigh of the girl. Yankowski said that by hitting that section of the body you are trying to avoid hitting an area that could sustain injury.

After, about 15 more strikes the teen kicked Howley and knocked off her body camera. Howley stopped what she was doing and picked it up from the ground and put it back on before continuing.

Eventually the suspect moved her leg and the officers were able to use strength and leverage to get the door shut.

Yankowski says that Howley should not have continued to strike the girl because they (the strikes) were in effective. She should have moved on to a different tactic.

Howley was found in violation of use of force. She received a 3 day suspension, which is equivalent to 30 hours without pay. She also had to take 10 hours of subject-controlled training.

"One incident doesn't define these officers," Yankowski said. "Being a police officer is a challenging job, bottom line - we could have done better."

He said the officers reactions were most likely based on inexperience but they had good intentions.

The press conference concluded with Yankowski reading off a list of recommendations on moving forward with the community after this incident.
Number one was having the Lansing Police Review Board review current policies that were used and questioned in this incident.
The second one was that the officers involved in this incident to receive 10 hours of supplemental training from the subject control unit in de-escalation techniques, combative and resisting subjects being placed into vehicles and juvenile interactions.
The third recommendation was for all officers to get the same supplemental training.
Next was for more road patrol training for officers with less than 2 years of LPD experience.
Fifth was to partner with local juvenile centers regarding training and to increase understanding of police officer contact with young people.
And the final recommendation is to host a quarterly Town Hall that will strengthen community conversations and trust.

The teen involved in the incident is still housed at the youth home with resisting arrest charges, among others.

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