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GRPD Names the Officer Responsible for the Death of Patrick Lyoya

GRPD releases the name of the officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya; the community demands impartiality and accountability
Protestors gather outside of the GRPD HQ in downtown GR in 2021.

Protestors gather outside of the GRPD HQ in downtown GR in 2021. /PPWIII

The Grand Rapids Police Department confirms the name of the officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya

Nearly a month after Patrick Lyoya was shot and killed, the GRPD has released the name of the officer responsible. "In the interest of tranparency, to reduce on-going 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," Chief Eric Winstrom said in a Monday statement. "Officer Schurr remains on administrative leave, stripped of his police powers, until the conclusion of the Michigan State Police investigation into potential criminal charges and the completion of GRPD's Internal Affairs investigation to determine whether all applicable departmental policies were followed."

On the morning of April 4, 2022, Officer Christopher Schurr initiated a traffic stop near the intersection of Griggs Street and Nelson Avenue on Grand Rapids' southeast side. Footage of the incident (released on April 13) shows Patrick Lyoya exit his vehicle upon being pulled over and, after initial contact with Schurr, flee the scene. A brief foot pursuit and physical altercation followed, during which both men struggled over the officer's taser. The video captured shows Officer Schurr on top of a face-down Lyoya, yelling "let go of the taser" repeatedly while reaching for his weapon. While the two were engaged in the struggle, Schurr discharged his weapon and killed Lyoya -- shooting him in the back of the head.

The reason for the initial traffic stop has been disputed. The premilinary press release sent out by the City of Grand Rapids and GRPD stated that "the vehicle [had] a license plate that [was] not registered to that vehicle." However, the Lyoya family's attorneys suspect that Christopher Schurr racially profiled Patrick. "The police officer initially is not travelling in the same direction of Patrick, so what we see is him make a U-Turn to get behind Patrick. We have to investigate whether this is a classic 'Driving While Black' case," said Attorney Ben Crump in a press conference livestreamed by WOODTV8 on April 19. "You have to ask yourself -- how did he know that Patrick's tag registration wasn't valid when he was coming from the opposite direction?" 

Per standard GRPD protocol, the Michigan State Police have taken over the investigation and will not turn over their findings to the Grand Rapids Police Department until the investigation has concluded.


Members of the community demand impartiality and accountability

On Tuesday, April 26, President Cle Jackson of the Greater Grand Rapids Branch of the NAACP held a press conference to share his organization's demands for how the Lyoya case should be handled. "We are demanding that Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker immediately recuse himself from this case. Also, we are demanding that [Michigan] Attorney General Dana Nessel take full control in oversight of this investigation," he stated. "We believe and agree that based on the historical relationship between the Kent County Prosecutors Office and the Grand Rapids Police Department, a fair and unbiased investigation cannot occur -- fundamentally, there are too many conflicts of interest." The NAACP has also demanded that Christopher Schurr be immediately terminated from GRPD and decertified as a police officer in the state of Michigan -- a demand that has been echoed by many other local activists and community members. However, Kent County Proescutor Chris Becker has made it clear that he does not intend to step down from this case. "Because I do not know Officer Christopher Schurr, nor did I know Patrick Lyoya, the legal standard for recusal has not been met," he said in an April 26 statement. "I will continue to follow the law regarding this investigation, and I will wait for the report from the Michigan State Police, to review the case in light of the law and the facts."

Similarly, local activists attended yesterday's Grand Rapids City Commission meeting at City Hall to demand action. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss called a recess as the crowd of protestors grew increasingly louder and more fervent. A few GRPD officers, along with Chief Winstrom, showed up to try and control the situation, but were met with shouting and profanity. "They weren't shutting us the f--- up," said one protestor. "You're going to hear us." Both events were recorded and posted on WZZM 13's YouTube channel. 

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