GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It took about three minutes for more officers to arrive after they were called to where a Grand Rapids police officer reported he was chasing Patrick Lyoya.
That short foot chase turned into a struggle that ended with the officer shooting and killing Lyoya, 26.
The officer radioed back when Lyoya started running. GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom explained that call automatically triggers dispatchers to send more cars.
“As to why it took three minutes, if that’s an unreasonable amount of time, that’s something that we are looking into as we investigate the entire incident,” Winstrom told News 8 Friday. “There’s different factors: what the other officers were doing at the time, if they were tied down on jobs, if they had other assignments. And plus, the weather conditions… It was a rainy, sleety, snowy morning.”
The first officer to arrive after Lyoya was shot, Winstrom said, was from GRPD. The next was from nearby East Grand Rapids. Winstrom said that East Grand Rapids officer had a higher level of medical training and started CPR.
GRPD will conduct an internal investigation looking at whether the officer followed departmental policy and whether any policies need changing.
The agency doesn’t currently have a foot chase policy. Right now, it’s up to officers to decide, based on their training, whether to start one. Winstrom explained the logic is that there are so many factors at play that a policy couldn’t address them all.
Still, Winstrom said he was open to reviewing any departmental policy. He said he was in a policy and training meeting Friday.
“I think we’ll be more informed about what it is we’re lacking when we complete the entire investigation of the incident. But to go ahead and make major changes without really understanding what the issue was before we have that understanding is a little preemptive,” he said.
“What we had here was a tragic outcome, and if there is something the police department can do better to ensure that that tragic outcome isn’t how a scenario like this plays out, I think we need to get there,” he added.
Winstrom became GRPD’s chief at the beginning of March. He came from Chicago and in fact has been in Michigan such a short time that he hasn’t yet finished the licensing process for the state.
As he took over and before the shooting, he said, he reviewed GRPD’s use of force policy. He said it meets national best practices, but he thinks there “may be room for some rewording.” He said the department’s highest priority is the sanctity of life and the policy could state that outright.
“Just reinforcing it in print and advertising it to everybody, letting the city know, hey, the sanctity of life is important to us, it’s the primary importance to us,” Winstrom said. “I think it’s an important internal and public-facing statement for everyone to see.”
GRPD on Wednesday released video showing the April 4 death of Lyoya. It shows the officer pulling Lyoya over. There was then a struggle that included Lyoya grabbing the officer’s Taser. The officer, who was atop Lyoya as the two struggled, ultimately shot him once in the head, killing him.
Winstrom said he doesn’t know whether the officer was familiar with Lyoya.
The legal side of the investigation into the shooting is being conducted by Michigan State Police. Once its investigation is done, it will be sent off to the Kent County prosecutor, who will decide whether it was justified or whether charges are warranted.
The chief said he will not make any determinations about the officer’s employment until he also has that investigation when it is done.
“I simply don’t know what I don’t know,” Winstrom said. “The officer is entitled to due process.”
He said he has been told that MSP is moving forward on its investigation “expeditiously” but he doesn’t have a deadline for when it might be done.
—News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.