East Lansing police release footage in officer-involving Meijer shooting

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

East Lansing police on Thursday released video footage from a shooting at a Meijer store by police last month that left a man wounded.

The release came after a deadline set by the Independent Police Oversight Commission and the time needed to redact parts of the footage to protect identifying information such as faces and license plates, investigators said during a press conference.

"We want to reassure our community that we are listening, and we are committed to doing the right things in terms of process to ensure that we get the answers that are needed, make decisions accordingly and, ultimately, move forward as a community,” said City Manager George Lahanas.

Two officers remain on administrative leave as Michigan State Police investigate the incident, said East Lansing Police Chief Kim Johnson.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office will review the findings. The officers' names were expected to be released after that, he told reporters.

One officer has two years of service and the other has two and a half, officials have said.

"We will not draw conclusions about whether the individuals involved acted consistent within the law, our policies and our training until all the facts are known and the entire investigation is complete," East Lansing police Capt. Chad Pride told reporters.

The video footage released captured the events leading up to the encounter April 25 in the parking lot outside the Meijer on West Lake Lansing.

It included store security video as well as images from body-worn cameras on multiple officers.

Police were dispatched to the store around 6:36 p.m. after a 911 call about a man who "pulled a gun out of a car, stuck it in his pocket and went into the store," the city has said.

One of the body-worn cameras captured an officer confronting the man in a dark jacket as he exited the store with a plastic bag, telling him to show his hands.

The man ran into the parking lot with the officer in pursuit. At one point, the man is told he would be "Tased."

An unidentified officer on the scene is heard saying the man was seen with a gun.

After the man re-emerges near a row of cars, an officer's body cam shows him aiming and firing multiple times from near a vehicle. The man is seen falling to the pavement, howling in pain.

"You shot me two times," the man is heard saying as another officer places him in handcuffs.

Officers were heard telling emergency personnel the man was wounded in his abdomen and leg.

He was hospitalized and later jailed but has since been released, MLive.com reported.

Officers were filmed searching and finding a pistol they said the man had.

The body cameras also captured a woman linked to the SUV the man arrived in screaming at the officers. She told them he had no gun.

"How am I supposed to relax when y'all shot him for no reason?" she said. 

The time between officers arriving on the scene and emergency personnel alerted about gunfire was about 10 minutes, police said Thursday.

Johnson told reporters no further details would be released before the investigation concludes.

"Individuals are always presumed innocent until proven guilty of a crime," he said. "And at this time, none of the individuals involved in this extreme have been charged with any criminal wrongdoing."

The group Black Lives Matter Lansing, which identified the man shot as DeAnthony VanAtten, criticized the city's actions Thursday.

"They've had 10 days to edit video into a narrative that will be used to exonerate these attempted murderers. Ten days that one of the 'good apples' could have said they didn't see DeAnthony with a gun. Ten days for investigators to question why a gun is miraculously 'found' off-camera," the group said in a Facebook post.

"Thank God DeAnthony is still alive because the shooter intended that not to be the case."