East Lansing Police finds ‘no excessive force’ over controversial arrest

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Tonight the East Lansing City Council held a special meeting to go over the findings of an East Lansing Police Department investigation.

The police department launched an internal investigation after finding a Facebook post from 19-year-old Uwimana Gasito showing abrasions on his face and accusing the East Lansing Police Department of using excessive force.

The arrest happened on February 9th and the department discovered the post on February 14th, which is when they launched their investigation.

Gasito sat down with 6 News to tell his side of the story.

Tonight, police had a different story.

Officer body camera footage and security footage from a 7/11 in East Lansing was released to the public tonight.

The East Lansing Police Chief and other police officials explained to the public what happened at the incident.

February 9th around 1:20 a.m., 19-year-old Uwimana Gasito and 26-year-old Anthony Zarwea were seen on 7/11 security video near the stores cash register, when 22-year-old Chandler Lee came inside and accused the two of touching his girlfriend on the buttocks.

Uwimana then pushed Lee away from him. Lee then pushed Zarwea down and the three then went outside.

East Lansing officers were nearby when the three were outside and came up to see what was happening. That’s when officer body camera footage caught Zarwea throwing a punch at Lee that ended up hitting a 7/11 employee in the face.

Officers separated everyone and arrested Lee and Zarwea.

When Zarwea was being placed in a police cruiser, Gasito was warned multiple times to move back.

After Gasito failed to comply, police told him he was under arrest for disorderly conduct.

Police say Gasito was resisting arrest and was taken to the ground to be placed in handcuffs. After he was placed on the ground, police say he was still resisting and other officers jumped in to help secure Gasito.

While on the ground being handcuffed, Gasito yelled out that his eye was bleeding and he was hurt. Officers did not respond to Gasito’s cries.

Police then took Gasito to a nearby police cruiser where he was taken to jail.

At the jail, police say Gasito was treated for his injuries.

Police officials say Gasito had a blood alcohol level of .13, Lee had a blood alcohol level of .16 and Zarwea refused a blood alcohol test, but did show signs of being intoxicated.

Police say when they launched the investigation February 14th, they reach out to Gasito and asked for a official interview with him regarding what happened. They added that Gasito agreed to meet with police, but then never showed up or answered any calls.

There is no official complaint from Gasito that police used excessive force.

No actions have been taken on any officers involved in the incident. The investigation included interviewing 10 officers who were involved and two other civilians. All the interviewees agreed that there was no excessive force.

The findings of the East Lansing Police Department caused outrage at the city council meeting. Many members of the audience came up during public comment about issues they see with the investigation. One highlighted issue was that the investigation was internal; within the police department. Another being that there is no clear video showing when or how, Gasito got the abrasions on his face during the arrest.

Crowd members called council members “pathetic.”

Many say they want to see change in the department and city council.

“For the city council to just accept what the police chief and his officers have done what I said I think is a miscarriage of justice, and we need more accountability from the police,” said one meeting attendee, Farhan Sheikh-Omar, “Police should not be investigating themselves, we should have oversight.”

East Lansing Mayor, Ruth Beier, says the council is working on making a citizens oversight commission to look into situations like this and would act as a third party for police investigations.

“We did all talk about how this could have gone better. We’re not saying that this was the best way for this to happen, and we are going to work with our police department and the citizens oversight commission when it’s up, on how we can do things better,” said Beier.

People called council members on making assumptions of how Gasito got the abrasions when there wasn’t footage clearly showing it. Others called asked for footage of Lee’s arrest. Police say the body camera on the officer who arrested Lee, wasn’t working.

Multiple people spoke with the council about racism in the community and want more black officers.

There was also a request to see the video of Gasito getting medical treatment at the jail for his injuries.

If you would like to see the full East Lansing City Council meeting, you can here.

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