East Lansing Unanimously Approves $35,000 Settlement In Excessive Force Suit Against Officer (Video)


A settlement has been reached in the East Lansing, Mich. lawsuit filed by a man who claimed a police officer used excessive force while restraining him. That man will now receive $35,000 from the city.

The East Lansing City Council voted unanimously to approve the settlement.

"We have to be transparent in everything we do," said George Lahanas, East Lansing's City Manager. "Our citizens deserve that; they deserve an account of what a public employee does and how we spend our money. This is one of those situations where we made a mistake and we come out and fix it.”

The incident occurred in January of last year when two Michigan State University students were being arrested for disorderly conduct. Officer Thomas Burtch tackled 21-year-old Brian Park to the ground before arresting him.

"We found that Officer Burtch's actions weren't with malice," said Julie Liebler, East Lansing Police Chief. "However, it was not appropriate force. We don't discuss specific matters in terms of what the consequences were but corrective action was taken."

The city released dashboard camera video of the incident because, as Lahanas explains, "it shows what occurred and rather than have it come out three months from now, it's better that we show it all and explain what happened."

“He had to make a split-second decision,” said Liebler of Burtch’s actions. “I think it was an honest mistake.”

The lawsuit was filed by Park in May of last year and has finally just reached a settlement. Liebler says that Burtch is still working for the East Lansing Police Department.

"I can assure you that we take these matters very seriously," said Liebler. "It's not something that happens very often, and I'm sure Officer Burtch will have a fine career with the East Lansing Police Department going forward."

As for Park and his friend, they are still facing the original charges of disorderly conduct and hindering or obstructing police.


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