DETROIT — A Michigan police chief backtracked on Monday and publicly identified the officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head during a traffic stop April 4.
Christopher Schurr is the Grand Rapids police officer seen in the video shooting of motorist Lyoya Grand Rapids, Police Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed Monday.
“In the interest of transparency, to reduce ongoing speculation, and to avoid further confusion, I confirm the name that is already circulating publicly – Christopher Schurr – as the officer involved in the April 4 shooting,” said Winstrom in a statement.
Schurr remains on administrative leave without police powers while an investigation into the shooting continues, Winstrom said. Lyoya’s family, his lawyers and other members of the community demanded the release of the officer’s name.
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“An intentional three-week delay in releasing the name of the officer involved, who they clearly knew at the time of the shooting, is offensive and the exact opposite of being ‘transparent,'” said Ven Johnson, the one of the family lawyers. “Once again we see the Grand Rapids Police Department caring for its own at the expense of family mental health and well-being.”
National Action Network founder and chairman Rev. Al Sharpton, who eulogized Lyoya, 26, a black man from Congo, at his funeral on Friday, also called on police to release Lyoya’s name. the officer.
“Whenever a black man or woman is arrested in America, their name is immediately released,” Sharpton said in a statement Monday. “But when that officer put the gun to the back of Patrick Lyoya’s head and decided to pull the trigger, his family had to wait three weeks to find out the name of the man who killed him. Transparency is the first step towards justice on behalf of Patrick Lyoya, but it is certainly not the last.
After Lyoya’s funeral, Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington acknowledged the request for the officer’s name and said he would discuss the matter with Winstrom and city employment officials. .
“Police reform requires evaluating many longstanding practices to ensure our actions are in the best interests of the community and the individuals involved,” Washington said last.
The New Black Panther Party, which had staged protests after the shooting, said in a statement that many people in the community had already heard the name from unofficial sources.
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The party credited the activists and their push for the official release.
“If it hadn’t been for the constant pressure and the constant release of Christopher Shurr’s name, we probably still wouldn’t be sure,” the party said in an Instagram post.
The post then called for murder charges against Schurr.
Police say Lyoya was arrested for having an incorrect license plate on his vehicle. After the stoppage, he attempted to flee from the officer, who chased and tackled him.
The two men fought over the officer’s stun gun before the officer pulled out his gun and shot Lyoya. An autopsy revealed that he died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
The death sparked protests in Grand Rapids and across the country and renewed calls for police reform. Michigan State Police are investigating the shooting. No charges have been filed.
Michigan State Police spokeswoman Lt. Michelle Robinson said state police have been made aware of the Grand Rapids Police Department’s intention to release Schurr’s name.
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“Michigan State Police will continue to ensure that all evidence and facts are properly collected and documented,” Robinson said in an email.
Voicemails left with a Grand Rapids Police Department spokesperson and Kent County District Attorney Chris Becker were not immediately returned Monday. The Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, also left messages seeking comment from Schurr’s union, the Grand Rapid Police Officers Association.
Michigan State Police will report the results of the shooting investigation to Becker’s office once it is complete. MSP officials said in a press release on Friday that the investigation was continuing.
“We recognize the importance of this investigation and we are sensitive to the need to carry it out in the fastest and most efficient manner possible,” said a statement from the MSP. “As with any investigation, gathering all the facts and documenting every piece of evidence takes time and we appreciate the patience of the community as we work to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation.”
Contribute: The Associated Press