Christopher Schurr is the Grand Rapids police officer seen in video shooting motorist Patrick Lyoya to death after an April 4 traffic stop, Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed Monday.
“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.
Schurr remains on administrative leave without police powers while an investigation into the shooting continues, Winstrom said.
Lyoya’s family, lawyers and others have been demanding the release of the officer’s name.
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“An intentional three-week delay in releasing the name of the officer involved, which they clearly knew at the time of the shooting, is offensive and the exact opposite of being ‘transparent,'” Ven Johnson, one of the family’s attorneys, said in a statement. “Once again, we see the Grand Rapids Police Department taking care of its own at the expense of the family’s mental health and well-being.”
National Action Network founder and president of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who eulogized Lyoya at his funeral Friday, also had called for police to release the officer’s name.
“Every time a Black man or woman is arrested in America, their name is immediately put out,” Sharpton said Monday in a statement. “But when this 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 in Patrick Lyoya’s name, but it certainly is not the last. ”
Police said Lyoya was stopped for having an improper license plate on his vehicle. After the stop, he attempted to run from the officer, who chased and tackled him.
The two men wrestled for the officer’s stun gun before the officer pulled his pistol and shot Lyoya. An autopsy found he died of a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
The death sparked protests in Grand Rapids and across the nation and renewed calls for police reform.
Michigan State Police are investigating the shooting. No charges have been filed.
State Police spokesperson Lt. Michelle Robinson said her department was notified that Grand Rapids police planned to release Schurr’s name.
“The Michigan State Police will continue to ensure that all evidence and facts are accurately collected and documented,” Robinson said in an email.
The State Police will forward the results of the investigation to the office of Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker once it is complete. MSP officials said in a Friday news release the investigation remained ongoing.
“We recognize the importance of this investigation, and we are sensitive to the need to complete it in as timely and efficiently as possible,” an MSP statement said. “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 complete investigation.”
A voicemail left with Becker was not immediately returned Monday.
The Free Press also left messages seeking comment with Schurr’s union, the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association.
A spot search of federal and local courts found no lawsuits associated with Schurr. The Free Press has asked Grand Rapids police to release Schurr’s personnel file.
Schurr is a 2014 graduate of Siena Heights University in Adrian, according to an online alumni and community magazine that, in fall 2015, celebrated his being sworn into the Grand Rapids Police Department.
He was one of more than two dozen officers assigned to patrol the east service area in Grand Rapids, according to the city’s website.
Schurr studied accounting and criminal justice at Siena, according to the school Registrar’s Office.
He also was a top athlete, hitting a university and conference record height of more than 17 feet, as a pole vaulter in 2014 at the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships, according to updates on the school website. He was named the most outstanding performer of the event.
In May 2014, MLive reported Schurr’s pole vault record and quoted him as saying he and his fiancée planned to wed in the African nation of Kenya, which is about 400 miles east of Lyoya’s homeland of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Schurr and his fiancée had traveled to Kenya to help build houses on a mission trip through their church, Corinth Reformed in Byron Center, south of Grand Rapids.
“We’re getting married in Kenya,” Schurr told MLive. “Me and my fiancée went to Kenya on a missions trip last year. We were asked to go again this year, but we could not afford a wedding and the trip, so we decided to combine them. ”
The couple decided to wear traditional Kenyan dress for their wedding.
“I have an African outfit already and my fiancée will pick out some fabric and she’ll make a Kenyan-style dress,” he told MLive.
Free Press staff writers Tresa Baldas, Emma Stein and Niraj Warikoo contributed to this report. Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or email@example.com. On Twitter @jwisely
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