GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One day after Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom released the name of the officer who shot Patrick Lyoya, he defended his decision.
“I wouldn’t say it was tough; it was the right thing to do,” Winstrom said.
On Monday, Winstrom identified Christopher Schurr as the officer who shot and killed Lyoya on April 4 following a struggle over Schurr’s Taser. Schurr is on paid leave as the investigation into the shooting plays out. The prosecutor will decide whether the use of force was justified or whether Schurr should face charges, and he didn’t have the case as of Tuesday.
GRPD’s policy is not to release the name of an employee under investigation who has not been arrested or charged with a crime. But in this case, transparency won out over due process.
Winstrom’s decision followed weeks of demands from Lyoya’s family, community activists and national activist Rev. Al Sharpton to release the officer’s name.
“There’s a criminal investigation going on. I had to make sure naming the officer wouldn’t interfere with the criminal investigation. I also had to make sure the officer was safe and that we ensure we’d taken steps to ensure his safety and his family’s safety,” Winstrom said. “It’s not that he’s a suspect of something. It’s that there’s a public demand to get the information. And it’s information that will eventually be publicly available.”
While Winstrom satisfied calls for the officer’s name to be released, many in the community, among them activist and Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack, say it should have happened much sooner.
“Just understand that there’s some places in the country, they won’t give out the information until someone is charged. There are some places that give it out earlier. It’s striking that right balance,” Winstrom said.
Despite Monday’s decision, the policy of not naming an officer involved in a shooting remains on the books. Winstrom says that could change in the future.
“Fast forward a couple of months down the line, we might have a concrete policy in place that the officer can see and the public can see exactly what to expect should an incident happen again, which I hope it doesn’t,” Winstrom said.
There is no timeline for when Michigan State Police will finish its investigation and turn it over to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker. Becker could also ask for additional investigation before the report is released to the public.