HEATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The man shot and killed by a Michigan State Police trooper this week has been identified.
Family confirmed his identity exclusively to News 8 Wednesday afternoon as Virgil-Lee Taylor of Zeeland. MSP also released his name Wednesday night. Family says he turned 31 this month.
The incident happened Monday afternoon in Allegan County’s Heath Township.
MSP said a trooper was responding to a breaking and entering that was in progress at a home. When the trooper arrived, they said the suspect was in the front yard.
Witnesses told investigators that Taylor attacked the trooper, going at him multiple times and at one point grabbing for the trooper’s gun, causing it to fire. Seconds later, the trooper regained control of the gun and fatally shot the 31-year-old.
A medical examiner determined that Taylor died from a single gunshot wound. State police confirmed that he was unarmed.
Taylor’s family spoke to News 8 and said if the proper steps were taken, he would still be alive today. His parents added more context to the sad situation that unfolded on Monday. They’re pushing for body cameras and new training for officers to deal with people in emotional distress.
Family says Taylor’s 8-year-old daughter lived at the home where he was killed. His parents said he was dealing with emotional distress and went to the home near Hamilton to speak to the mother of his child, hoping she could help, but she wasn’t there and minutes later an MSP trooper arrived.
His family was too emotional to speak on camera. Instead, they sent us a statement that said in part, “First, we would like to give our deepest sympathies to the officer that had to go through what he did.”
“I do not have all the details that were discussed between my son and the officer before things went crazy. But I do know for a fact that if there would have been more officers on the scene to help the officer and maybe try talking some sense into my son, my son would still be alive. We feel the process should have been handle in a different way,” family said.
The Taylor family is also upset that the officer was not wearing a body camera. MSP says a dash camera was recording but was pointed away from the incident. They did say the audio from the recording was good.
“Police reform is something that is serious and the fact that this officer did not have a camera on is not only upsetting, but it is wrong to the officer, my son and my family. This needs to change. And if my son can help the change, then maybe something good can come out of this,” Taylor’s parents said.
MSP said the dashcam video will be a part of the investigation report.
The trooper involved is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. He is recovering from injuries. His name hasn’t been released, but MSP says he is a veteran officer. They did not say how many years of service the trooper has.
The shooting remains under investigation and a report will be sent to the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office for review.