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Black Lives Matter calls on East Lansing to name officers, release unedited video of police shooting

Black Lives Matter presser on VanAtten shooting
Sarah Lehr
Activists with Lansing's chapter of Black Lives Matter rally outside the Ingham County Jail on Tuesday, May 5, 2022, where 20-year-old DeAnthony VanAtten is being held on a probation violation after being shot by East Lansing police on April 25, 2022.

Updated on May 4 at 10:30 a.m. ET

Lansing’s chapter of Black Lives Matter is demanding that the city of East Lansing name and fire two officers involved in a shooting that injured a Black man April 25th.

Activists rallied outside the Ingham County Jail Tuesday afternoon where 20-year-old DeAnthony VanAtten is being held on a probation violation. He’s been behind bars since he was discharged from Sparrow Hospital Monday after being shot a week prior.

DeAnthony’s mother, Burnette VanAtten, says the officers involved should be prosecuted.

“The only thing he is guilty of was shopping while Black,” she said. "He did not deserve to be shot like an animal. East Lansing police need to be held accountable for their actions ... or this will continue to happen.”

Burnette VanAtten referenced last month’s fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids police officer and added, “I thank God my son is still alive because a lot of Black men who encounter the police are not — like Patrick.”

Scott Hughes, a spokesman for the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, declined to comment on the nature of DeAnthony VanAtten’s probation violation.

Hughes says the court records related to the underlying charge were sealed under Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. Under HYTA, people between the ages of 17 and 26 who plead guilty to certain crimes can ask a judge to wipe their criminal records. A judge may revoke HYTA status, however, because of issues like probation violations.

East Lansing Police Chief Kim Johnson has said he won’t release the names of the officers involved in the shooting while an investigation into the incident by Michigan State Police is still ongoing. Both officers are on paid administrative leave.

A news release from ELPD on the night of the shooting said officers responded to a call about a man entering a grocery store with a gun and said shots were fired after the man ran out of the store. Officials with the city and MSP have declined to give further details about the sequence of events while MSP’s inquiry continues.

Johnson has said, however, that he plans to share video of the incident before that external investigation concludes. During a meeting last Thursday, East Lansing’s citizen-led Independent Police Oversight Commission requested that video be published within seven days.

On Wednesday, ELPD spokesman Lt. Chad Pride said police plan to release the video the following day on Thursday, May 5.

Activists and the VanAtten family say they want to see unedited footage. Local Black Lives Matter leader Sean Holland called the shooting part of a pattern of racism by East Lansing police.

“How many more families have to cry out before this community says this is just flat out wrong?” he said.

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