State police ask for charge against East Lansing officer involved in excessive force complaint

Kara Berg
Lansing State Journal

LANSING — Weeks after Michigan State Police cleared an East Lansing police officer of accusations of excessive force in a December arrest, the agency has reversed course and is recommending Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon charge the officer.

Siemon said Thursday her office received a warrant request for a charge against Andrew Stephenson, who has been the subject of two excessive force investigations this year. She did not say what the requested charge is.

MSP Detective Lt. Erik Darling determined in May that Stephenson had used appropriate force during his December arrest of Anthony Loggins. He said Loggins' failure to comply with verbal direction and his choice to jump back into his vehicle constitute "active resistance." Darling determined that Stephenson used "physical controls on that same continuum." 

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MSP Spokesperson Shanon Banner said the agency completed its investigation and delivered a warrant request to Siemon's office Wednesday. Banner declined to say why the agency exonerated Stephenson in May but then either continued or reopened its investigation. 

Loggins was pulled over for failure to use a turn signal. Officers found his license was suspended. When Officer Austin Nelson told Loggins he was arresting him for driving with a suspended license, Loggins jumped back in his car and yelled "come and get me." 

Video: The final conversation leading up to the arrest starts around 19:30. An officer threatens to tase Loggins if he doesn't put his hands behind his back, then you can see Stephenson kneeling on his neck at 21:31. Loggins continuously asks why they're being so rough.  

Nelson, Stephenson and Officer Evan Siemen pulled Loggins from the vehicle and wrestled him to the ground. An officer told Loggins he would use a stun gun on him if he did not put his hands behind his back. 

Nelson's body camera shows Stephenson kneeling on Loggins' neck after he was handcuffed and on the ground. 

Darling wrote in his report that Stephenson's use of force was "completely appropriate to the suspect's level of resistance and in light of the totality of the circumstances."

Loggins filed a complaint with East Lansing police about Stephenson's use of force. When prosecutors watched the body camera footage earlier this month — something they did not do before charging him with resisting arrest — the case against Loggins was dismissed. 

"This case helps highlight the need to have a heightened level of review in cases involving resisting and obstructing warrant requests, whether or not a use of force complaint against the officer exists," Siemon said in an emailed statement. "While for decades, long before cell phones, dash cams, or body cams existed, cases were reviewed solely on the evidence presented in the police report, this case and others highlight the need for a heightened level of scrutiny in these cases and we will be developing and implementing such a policy."

Stephenson was the subject of two excessive force complaints within six weeks. Six of the 26 citizen complaints made to ELPD since 2016 involved Stephenson. None were sustained. 

Contact reporter Kara Berg at 517-377-1113 or Follow her on Twitter @karaberg95.