Police release name of Grand Rapids officer who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya
Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom on Monday released the name of the officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya on April 4.
"In the interest of transparency, to reduce ongoing speculation, and to avoid any further confusion, I am confirming the name already publicly circulating — Christopher Schurr — as the officer involved in the April 4 Officer Involved Shooting," Winstrom said in a statement.
"Beginning this week, as required by law, the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) will be releasing documents in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act relative to this incident."
Schurr, 31, remains on administrative leave, without police powers, while Michigan State Police investigate, he said.
The police officer's union, the Grand Rapids Police Officer's Association, did not immediately respond to a message left by The Detroit News.
Lyoya's family, their attorneys and community groups like the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP had been urging the department to release Schurr's name, noting that the names of Black criminal suspects are routinely released to the media.
"It took them three weeks to the day of the shooting to release his name,” Lyoya family attorney Ven Johnson said Monday. "The family had to bury (Lyoya) without knowing the name of the man who ended his life.
"Grand Rapids police said they were going to be 100% transparent, but being transparent doesn't mean hiding information you've had since moments after the shooting happened," Johnson said. "That's the exact opposite of transparent."
During Lyoya’s funeral on Friday, the Rev. Al Sharpton demanded authorities publicly identify Schurr. He said it was unacceptable that the officer's name would be released only if he’s charged with a crime, which had been the previous position of the city.
He said police routinely release the names of Blacks suspected of crimes.
“You put their name all over the news,” he said. “Every time we’re suspected of something, you put our name out there. How dare you hold the name of a man that killed this man.”
Sharpton, who gave the eulogy, also demanded the U.S. Justice Department investigate the shooting, which is being handled now by the Michigan State Police.
Lyoya was face down on the ground and trying to rise when he was shot in the back of the head by Schurr, video released by police show. The White officer was on top of him and can be heard on video demanding that Lyoya take his hand off the officer’s stun gun.
The officer is heard earlier saying Lyoya was stopped because the license plate did not match the car Lyoya had been driving in a Grand Rapids neighborhood. Lyoya declined to get back into the vehicle as ordered and fled the scene. A short foot chase ensued before the deadly struggle.
Once the state police finish investigating, the agency will forward its findings to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration of any charges. County Prosecutor Chris Becker has told the public not to expect a quick decision.
Becker on Monday declined to respond to questions about whether the decision to release Schurr's name impacts his office. In a brief statement, he said State Police are still working on the investigation.
Michigan State Police Lt. Michelle Robinson said in an email: "We were advised that the Grand Rapids Police intended to release the officer's name. The Michigan State Police will continue to ensure that all evidence and facts are accurately collected and documented."
The department noted in its statement that while the city "has a long-standing practice of withholding names of any employee under investigation until the conclusion of an administrative investigation" as well as the names of individuals who have not been arrested or charged with a crime, "police reform requires evaluating many long-standing practices to ensure our actions are consistent with the best interests of the community and the individuals involved."
The city, Grand Rapids police, the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability and the Human Resources Department will be reviewing the policies, according to the release.
Schurr joined the Grand Rapids Police Department in 2015, the department has said previously.
Staff Writer Francis X. Donnelly contributed