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Investigation finds East Lansing Police justified in shooting suspect during a 2022 incident

 East Lansing police blocking entrances to the Lake Lansing Road Meijer store following the officer-involved shooting.
Sarah Lehr
The use-of-force incident occurred outside an East Lansing Meijer in late April of 2022.

An internal investigation by the East Lansing Police Department finds two of its officers acted accordingly when they shot at and struck a man as they attempted to apprehend him during an incident last year.

In April of 2022, two East Lansing Police officers, Jose Viera and Jim Menser, shot DeAnthony VanAtten during a chase in the parking lot of a Meijer. That was after the department received several 911 calls alleging a man matching his description ran into the store with a gun.

VanAtten did not have a firearm on him when he was arrested, but a gun was found by officers under a car in the store parking lot.

Now, more than a year later, the police department has released its investigation into the incident to the East Lansing Independent Police Oversight Commission.

Police Captain Chad Pride presented the three hundred plus page report and answered commissioner questions at a meeting Wednesday.

Shawn Farzam, a member of the commission, says the report takes a critical look at the incident.

I believe that the police officers responded accordingly. The report states that,” he said.

Another commissioner Amanda Morgan says the report can help guide the police department in decreasing how often officers use force during arrests.

“There's room for trainings and changes in policy, so that individuals can be trained more, that they're given more support on the field, and that policies really reflect reducing that use of force that everybody wants to do,” she said.

According to the report, three other officers at the scene were found to have violated East Lansing Police Department policies but none were directly related to their handling of the VanAtten. Those violations included failure to wear a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle, using tobacco while on duty and neglecting to wear body camera as required.

The report also states officers Viera and Menser fired eight shots injuring VanAtten in the right leg and abdomen.

VanAtten is facing trial for multiple charges, including four counts of police obstruction or assault, felony firearm possession, carrying a concealed weapon, and receiving and hiding a stolen firearm. Additionally, he is facing a misdemeanor charge for third-degree retail fraud.

During the meeting, commissioner Kath Edsall called on the police to drop those charges.

Attorney General Dana Nessel cleared the two police officers involved of any wrongdoing last year.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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