GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said he does not think he is close to making a decision in the death of Patrick Lyoya and called for patience from the Grand Rapids community as he carefully reviews the case.
It’s Becker’s job to decide whether Grand Rapids Police Department Officer Chris Schurr was justified in shooting and killing Lyoya or whether charges are warranted.
Becker said in a statement Wednesday that he was providing an update in response to questions from the community about where the case stands. He explained that he and Michigan State Police, which is investigating the shooting, expect to get forensic reports from the manufacturer of the officer’s Taser and body camera either late this week or early next week.
But even when he does get those reports, he said, “it does not mean my decision is imminent.”
He said that’s because he has already asked more questions of MSP after getting its case report on April 28 and that he is reaching out to others for additional “expert guidance.”
“While reviewing the material that has been provided thus far, I have determined that additional expert guidance — beyond the scope of the MSP — is needed in order for me to make a fully informed decision,” Becker said in his statement. “I have begun to seek this expert guidance.”
He did not explain what type of “expert guidance” that is.
“I recognize the investigation appears to be moving painstakingly slowly,” Becker stated. “However, as in all cases that come before this office, it is imperative that I review all the facts and evidence before making a charging decision. In this situation, my decision can only be made by taking the time to gather all the available information — both from the MSP and from state and national experts.”
The shooting happened April 4. Video released by GRPD shows that Schurr pulled Lyoya over, Lyoya ran away and there was a struggle that included Lyoya grabbing Schurr’s Taser. Schurr, who was on top of Lyoya trying to hold him down, shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
Lyoya’s attorneys argue Schurr’s use of force was excessive and say that he repeatedly failed to deescalate the situation. They have called for Schurr to be fired and charged. Demonstrators have also repeatedly marched in Grand Rapids and disrupted city commission meetings, calling for justice for Lyoya.
Becker recognized how important the case is to so many people, which is why he offered his update Wednesday.
“Over the last week, several concerned community members have raised questions regarding the status of the investigative report and charging decision on the fatal police shooting of Patrick Lyoya. I wanted to take this opportunity to update the public on this case.
“The Michigan State Police (MSP) is likely to complete the investigative report by the end of this week, perhaps early next. The MSP is doing everything it can to provide a thorough, complete, and timely investigation.
“After receiving the partial investigative report from the MSP on April 28, 2022, I have been in regular contact with their investigators, and I have provided follow-up questions regarding the initial documentation. However, while reviewing the material that has been provided thus far, I determined that additional expert guidance – beyond the scope of the MSP – is needed in order for me to make a fully informed decision. I have begun to seek this expert guidance.
“I recognize the investigation appears to be moving painstakingly slowly. However, as in all cases that come before this office, it is imperative that I review all the facts and evidence before making a charging decision. In this situation, my decision can only be made by taking the time to gather all the available information – both from the MSP and from state and national experts.
“Because of the extraordinary interest in this case, I felt it was important to inform the public that it will take additional time for a final decision. While I may receive the complete MSP investigation soon, it does not mean my decision is imminent.
“I have heard from many members of the public, and I am keenly aware of the impact this situation is having on our community. I thank you for your understanding in this matter, and I ask for your continued patience.Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker
Schurr remains off the job while the investigation is underway. GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom previously said he will not make any decision on Schurr’s employment until after he sees MSP’s investigation.
That MSP investigation is separate from an internal investigation that GRPD will conduct on the matter.