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AG Nessel Announces Charges in Multiple Use of Force Cases

DETROIT – At a news conference Wednesday morning, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel discussed the outcomes of two cases the Department spent the last several months evaluating for charges. The cases involve use of force by law enforcement from the Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office and East Lansing Police Department.

“Residents place their trust in the law enforcement community to ensure the public’s safety,” said Nessel.  “Officers have a duty to intervene, especially when they observe excessive use of force used by a fellow officer that violates department policy and the law. Residents should be able to rely on the police to respond to calls for aid, free from assault.” 

Charges Against Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Viviano

Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Viviano allegedly used excessive force against an autistic adult resident of the Premier Care Assisted Living Home located at 5205 S M-33 in Alger, Michigan on September 8, 2021.

The Ogemaw County Sheriff’s Office responded to an emergency call regarding a 27-year-old autistic resident at Premier Care.  The victim was alleged to have assaulted one of the care takers and was reported to be “out of control.”

Ogemaw Sheriff’s Deputy Michael O’Dell responded to the scene, along with Michigan State Police (MSP) Troopers Robert Lee, Justin Henderson, and Jo Hamlin.  Law enforcement present at the facility described the victim as not able to effectively communicate and showing signs of emotional distress.  Law enforcement present on the scene reported that his movements did not appear assaultive or threatening.  

Deputy Viviano engaged with the victim to force him into a seated position, agitating and upsetting him.  Deputy Viviano did this repeatedly, pushing or forcing him to sit down.  When the victim did not comply, Deputy Viviano physically assaulted him.  Trooper Lee intervened to deescalate the situation.  Once the assault ended, Deputy Viviano and the victim were separated, and Deputy Viviano was taken outside.  The victim was transported to the local hospital by Deputy O’Dell for evaluation. 

Following the assault, the three MSP troopers reported the incident to Sgt. Craig Johnson of the Michigan State Police.  

“I would like to thank Michigan State Police Troopers Henderson, Lee and Hamlin for reporting the unlawful actions of a fellow officer,” said Nessel.  “Those who violate their oath to protect and serve must be held accountable.  If their conduct is ignored or accepted, we risk eroding public trust in all law enforcement which in turn threatens the safety of our communities and our state.” 

Deputy Viviano will be charged with:

  • One count of misconduct in office, pursuant to M.C.L. §750.505, a five-year felony;
  • One count of assault and battery, pursuant to M.C.L. §750.81, a ninety-three-day misdemeanor.

East Lansing Police Department Incident at Meijer

The Department of Attorney General will not seek charges against East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) Officers Jose Viera and James Menser for their role in a shooting that took place on April 25, 2022, in the parking lot of a Meijer store located on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing.

Officers James Menser, Jose Viera, Austin Nelson and Jeff Horn two of the ELPD responded to a call of a man, later identified as DeAnthony Vanatten, wearing a ski mask with only his eyes visible, running into the Meijer store with a visible gun on his person. Video of the encounter between Vanatten and law enforcement was previously released to the public.

Officers provided multiple lawful commands to Vanatten and he failed to comply.  Officers Menser and Viera discharged their weapons multiple times and Vanatten’s encounter with the ELPD resulted in him being shot twice.  A loaded firearm was found near where Vanatten was apprehended by police.

Based on a thorough review of evidence and the law, the Department of Attorney General finds the use of force by the two officers was justified.  

Furthermore, a review of the evidence as it pertains to Vanatten substantiates the following criminal charges:

  • one count carrying a concealed weapon, MCL 750.227, a five-year felony;
  • one count receiving and concealing a firearm, MCL 750.535b, a ten-year felony;
  • one count felony firearm, MCL 740.227b, a two-year felony;
  • four counts resisting and obstructing an officer, MCL 750.81d(1), a two-year felony;
  • one count third degree retail fraud, MCL 750.356d(4), a 93-day misdemeanor.

Given the fact that these cases remain active, the Department will not be releasing additional materials or evidence related to the investigations.

“Michigan law does give a police officer the right to use the degree of force that is reasonable under the circumstances to effectuate an arrest and protect themselves and others while making that arrest,” said Nessel. “If a person uses force within our state's definition of self-defense, their actions are justified under the law, and they are not guilty of a crime.”


Please note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The Department does not provide booking photos.