LANSING, Mich. – Outrage ensued across the country this week after footage was released that appeared to show an officer striking a runaway teen.
On Friday, a video of Michigan officers chasing down the teen went viral on social media, drawing a demand for the officers to be charged with assault from the Lansing chapter of Black Lives Matter.
According to multiple reports, the officers received a call from a resident requesting that police pick up two teenagers who had escaped from a local youth center, Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski told reporters during a news conference on Friday.
The teens, a 16-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, were being housed at the center for probation violations, and police had warrants to re-detain them, Yankowski said.
But when the responding officers arrived in the neighborhood and saw two people matching the teens’ description, they saw police and “took off running”.
Body cam footage was just released showing Officer Bailey Ueberroth giving chase to the 16-year-old girl. He is able to get her into handcuffs and lead her back to the cruiser, but then while shouting to onlookers, she was able to slip out of the cuffs, causing the teen and the officer to begin struggling on the ground.
Another officer comes to help the first, and the two are eventually able to pick her up and carry her to their patrol vehicle as she continued to yell to neighbors.
“I didn’t put my hands on her,” she screams in frustration. “You called the police for no reason.”
Once in the back of the cruiser, the teen puts her leg on the door, refusing to allow it to be shut. That’s when the video appears to show Officer Lindsey Howley hitting the teen in the thigh, a maneuver officers are trained to use as a distraction, Yankowski said.
A video posted to social media doesn’t appear to reveal any punches but does show the officer appearing to use a hefty amount of force to attempt to close the door that the teen was blocking.
“You’re hurting my arm!” yells the girl, calling the officer a “stupid b****” while kicking open the car door and screaming.
— Antoinette (@ms_nette09) June 15, 2019
Officers are permitted to use force that is “objectively reasonable,” and this case will be thoroughly reviewed, Yankowski said.
The 15-year-old boy was also apprehended and returned to the local youth center. He reportedly kicked and damaged a patrol vehicle while being taken into police custody.
Neither teenager suffered any injuries during the event, but the officers both reported minor scrapes and cuts and one of the officers strained their hand.
Crowd protests police brutality a day after Lansing officer punches teen https://t.co/GijSiREREr
— Lansing State Journal (@LSJNews) June 15, 2019
Protesters appeared outside the department on Saturday, offering a statement to the crowd.
“That is not the conduct of what we want from our Lansing police officers,” Yankowski said. “That is not the outcome that we are looking for. With that being said, we’ve got to take this case from A to Z and make sure that we get all the facts and we get all the issues onto the table and we evaluate per our polices, procedures, our core values.”
The footage from the released body cam video can be seen here.
A press release from the Lansing department confirmed that the officers had been placed on leave during the investigation of the incident.
“On Saturday, June 15th, Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski placed Officers Lindsey Howley, a 1-year department employee, and Bailey Ueberroth, a 6 month department employee, on administrative leave while an Internal Affairs investigation is conducted regarding their actions during the arrest of a 16 year old juvenile on June 14th.”
The teen’s mother Tonia Lilly said in an interview with WLNS, “I am appalled, I saw the press conference, standard procedure? If I punch my kid like that, it would be child abuse, so I don’t see how a stranger can restrain a child by punching them.”
She reportedly received a call from the 15-year-old’s mother about the ensuing situation.
“When she called me, you could hear my daughter screaming in the background saying they were hurting her, you could hear the neighbors saying that they were punching a child,” Lilly said.