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Man shot by East Lansing police outside Meijer charged with seven felonies

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Sarah Lehr / WKAR-MSU
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East Lansing police blocked entrances to the Lake Lansing Road Meijer store following an officer-involved shooting Monday, April 25, 2022.

A man shot in a Meijer parking lot by East Lansing Police Department officers in April has been charged with seven felony counts and one misdemeanor count.

The charges against 20 year-old DeAnthony VanAtten, who is Black, appeared Tuesday night on the 54B District Court’s website. They include felony charges of assault, resisting or obstructing police, one count carrying a concealed weapon, one count receiving and concealing a weapon, one felony firearm count and one misdemeanor third degree retail fraud charge.

Security footage shows VanAtten checking out at a Meijer grocery store buying mac and cheese and ears of corn on April 25. Police then arrive in response to 911 calls alleging a man had run into the store with a gun.

VanAtten was then chased into the parking lot by police who yelled for VanAtten to stop, get on the ground and show his hands.

At one point in the chase, East Lansing police officers Jose Viera and James Menser fire eight rounds at VanAtten. Of the shots fired, two strike VanAtten, in the abdomen and in the leg. Officers then
handcuffed VanAtten.

VanAtten didn’t have a gun on his person when arrested. However, bodycam footage shows officers finding a gun under a vehicle.

Viera and Menser were placed on paid administrative leave following the incident while under investigation by the Michigan State Police. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Wednesday that she would not seek charges against the officers.

“The use of force by these two officers was justified, they took the measures necessary to eliminate an immediate and extreme threat,” Nessel said at a press conference Wednesday.

Nessel said the gun found was loaded and later identified as stolen.

The ELPD has been criticized by Black Lives Matter Lansing activists who have said VanAtten was buying groceries for a cookout and was caught “shopping while Black.”

In response to VanAtten’s charges, the group stated on Facebook that the charges against VanAtten are “stacked against him for having the audacity to still be alive and to justify the cops opening fire in a Meijer's parking lot with children present.”

“The police showed up like they had an active shooter situation,” BLM Lansing leader Rev. Sean Holland said. “And so it’s because of this man’s ethnicity, because he was a young Black man identified, that narrative kicks in.”

Holland said VanAtten wasn’t an immediate threat or danger and had the initial 911 call, which he said was racial profiling, not been placed, VanAtten would’ve returned to his car.

“VanAtten did not die, he was not murdered, and I think we need to name that this violence was real and it was intended to kill him, when they shot those eight shots, they did not shoot to disengage or to slow him down, those were fatal shots that missed,” Holland said.

VanAtten remains in the Ingham County jail and was arraigned on charges Wednesday afternoon.

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.