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East Lansing releases video showing police shooting man as investigation continues

East Lansing police blocked entrances to the Lake Lansing Road Meijer store following an officer-involved shooting Monday evening.
Sarah Lehr
East Lansing police block entrances to the Lake Lansing Road Meijer store following a shooting by police on Monday, April 25, 2022.

East Lansing has released video showing officers shooting and injuring a man outside a Meijer on April 25 after the man ran from them in the grocery store parking lot.

Two officers are on paid administrative leave while a Michigan State Police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

City Manager: Videos are 'one piece' of ongoing investigation

City Manager George Lahanas cautioned that the video shared Thursday is only "one piece" of the evidence being reviewed as part of that investigation.

"It is by design that a third party investigative team was immediately brought in ... to ensure that there isn't a conflict of interest and that the investigation remains fair and impartial for all parties involved." Lahanas said.

Family members have identified the man who was shot as 20-year-old DeAnthony VanAtten.

Activists are calling on the city to release the names of the officers involved, but officials are declining to do so while MSP's inquiry is ongoing.

What the videos show

Police Chief Kim Johnson and police spokesman Lt. Chad Pride began by playing a 6:36 p.m. 911 call in which a dispatcher relays a report about a Black man, wearing a mask that shows just his eyes, who's described as taking a gun from inside his vehicle.

East Lansing Police Chief Kim Johnson speaks during a press conference on Thursday, May 5, 2022, in which the department released video of a police shooting that happened on April 25, 2022.
Sarah Lehr
East Lansing Police Chief Kim Johnson speaks during a press conference on Thursday, May 5, 2022, in which the department released video of a police shooting that happened on April 25, 2022.

"He's not threatening anyone with it," the dispatcher said. "He just walked inside the store."

Security and body camera footage then show the man running out of the store, while carrying what appears to be a white plastic grocery bag, leading to a chase. Police shout multiple times with expletives for the man to get on the ground and to show his hands. An officer warns the man he will be tased before an officer is heard saying “he’s got a gun” and “he’s reaching.”

Body camera footage shows one officer fire his gun two times at VanAtten from behind a truck. Video from another body camera shows a second officer shooting at the man six times from around the corner of an SUV as the man runs.

"You shot me two times, bro," the man says, screaming in pain while the police handcuff him and look for his bullet wounds.

"You're going to be OK," an officer says. "You've got to tell me where else you were shot, man."

Officers called out a report about shots fired at 6:46 p.m. and began giving the man medical attention at 6:47 p.m., city officials said. The fire department arrived at 6:52 p.m.

Police searched for a gun on the man’s person but do not find it. Video later shows them finding a gun under a car in the store parking lot.

City officials played store security footage showing the Meijer parking lot, along with body camera footage from the store and the parking lot. There was security footage inside the Meijer, Pride said, but officials did not play that video.

Pride said officers wear body cameras near the center of their vests.

"It is important to note the camera lens is fixed in one position and does not capture all that is seen by the human eye," he said.

Activist, attorney react to video

Black Lives Matter Lansing leader Sean Holland notes police didn't find a gun on VanAtten's body and questioned why officers responded to the report in the first place.

"This is not about training," Holland said. "This is about the hierarchy of human value and how we see each other. This would have never happened to other ethnic groups."

But Mike Nichols, an attorney representing one of the officers, says the video proves his client responded appropriately to an immediate threat to the officers and public.

“The unvarnished fact is that the young man had a gun and he was NOT carrying it lawfully inside the store," Nichols said in a statement.

Johnson, East Lansing's police chief, said Thursday he could not answer questions about the legality of the gun found in the parking lot, citing the ongoing investigation. Open and concealed carry of guns is legal in Michigan, provided someone has a permit. Private businesses may ban guns on their property and Meijer corporate representatives have not responded to questions about their gun policy. On Thursday, a WKAR reporter observed a small sign outside the East Lansing Meijer showing a gun with a slash through it.

“It is important to remember that the body worn camera released today does not reflect necessarily what the officers could see – in particular the 2nd officer to fire – who was not able to see the threat until he ran by the car at a high rate of speed and he had no idea if the man was still armed and either running back to the store or otherwise a threat to the public or himself," Nichols said, adding that his client hopes for VanAtten's continued recovery.

VanAtten spent a week in the hospital before being booked into the Ingham County Jail on a probation violation through 30th Circuit Court. He's since been released from jail.

Megan Schellong contributed to this report.

The videos are posted to the city's website, along with a list of mental health resources. Officials also say people may call 211 if they're experiencing trauma after seeing the video.

Sarah Lehr is a state government reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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