GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The union that represents the Grand Rapids police officer who killed Patrick Lyoya said it is confident that a meticulous investigation will show the shooting was justified.
“As tragic as this case is all the way around, we feel a thorough review of this entire situation will show that a police officer has the legal right to protect themselves and community in a volatile dangerous situation such as this, in order to return to his/her family at the end of their shift,” the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association stated.
The shooting happened April 4 after Grand Rapids Police Department Office Chris Schurr pulled over Lyoya, 26. Video released by GRPD shows there was a short foot chase and a struggle between the two that included Lyoya grabbing Schurr’s Taser. Schurr, who was atop Lyoya and trying to hold him down, ultimately shot him once in the head, killing him.
The police union made its first public comment on the matter on Facebook Tuesday night, the day after GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed Schurr’s name.
“(This) statement in no way is meant to detract from the heartache the Lyoya family is experiencing from the loss of their family member,” the GRPOA began its statement. “However, with the demand for transparency the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association believes a few comments about this all-around tragic situation are appropriate.”
“Officer Schurr, and all police officers, took an oath to serve the community by enforcing laws and protecting the public. A police officer has the obligation to protect themself, fellow officers, and the community in often volatile situations. Police Officers are often required to march into episodes that turn dangerous for the officer and members of the public.
“While most police interactions remain peaceful, this is not always the case. Police are trained that a simple traffic stop can quickly turn dangerous or deadly for the police officer or innocent bystanders. A subject of police contact may have a history of violence, sometimes even multiple violent episodes, and may attempt to harm the police officer or public. Subjects might be under the influence of substances affecting their demeanor and volatility. Subjects may have weapons or attempt to gain control of the officer’s weapons to harm the officer or public. Subjects might have extensive criminal histories, including outstanding arrest warrants, which might cause them to resist/assault an officer at all costs to avoid apprehension and the stiffer penalties that might be applied. A fleeing subject may pose risk to the community. We have had episodes right here in the City of Grand Rapids, including last week with an armed individual, where fleeing subjects enter residences to avoid apprehension thus posing a serious threat to occupants of that home.”Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association
Schurr has been a police officer for about seven years. The GRPOA emphasized his academic excellence in college, his lack of a criminal history, work with juvenile inmates and multiple mission trips to Kenya.
“Officer Schurr’s life experiences have led to his cultural awareness and sensitivity on the job,” the GRPOA wrote.
Lyoya’s family has called for Schurr to be fired and charged. The local chapter of the NAACP has also called for the police chief to take steps to ensure Schurr can never be a police officer in Michigan again. For now, Schurr is on paid leave while Michigan State Police investigate the shooting. Once that investigation is finished, the Kent County prosecutor will decide whether the shooting was justified or whether charges are warranted.
The police union suggested that many people may have opinions in hindsight, but they cannot “duplicate … the real time stress, fear, exhaustion and challenges that a police officer faces in volatile situations.”
“Critically, when assessing a tragic police officer involved matter such as this, all facets must be scrutinized, including the history and volatility of the parties involved,” it stated. “We appreciate the thorough investigation and review of this matter by law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.”
It said it would continue to support Schurr and his family.
The police chief has said he will not make any decisions about Schurr’s employment until he can review MSP’s investigation, from which he is intentionally separated to ensure impartiality.