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Autopsy Shows Patrick Lyoya Was Drunk When He Was Shot While Fighting Cop

By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin

Grand Rapids, MI – The coroner released Patrick Lyoya’s autopsy report on Friday that showed the 26-year-old had a blood-alcohol level more than three times higher than the legal limit when he was fatally shot while fighting with an officer.

The Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office’s report largely echoed an independent autopsy commissioned by Lyoya’s family, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The coroner ruled Lyoya’s death a homicide caused by a “gunshot wound of the head.”

The report said that when Lyoya was shot, he had a blood-alcohol level of .29 percent, almost four times the legal limit of .08 percent, the Associated Press reported.

Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) Chief Eric Winstrom told reporters on April 13 that the series of events leading up to Lyoya’s death began at approximately 8:11 a.m. on April 4, when GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr spotted a vehicle traveling westbound on Griggs Street with for a Michigan license plate which didn’t match the car.

The officer followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop on Nelson Avenue Southeast near Griggs Street Southeast.

Bodycam and dashcam footage showed the driver, later identified as Lyoya, as he immediately exited the vehicle after being pulled over.

Officer Schurr ordered him to stay in the car, but Lyoya ignored him.

The officer explained the reason for the stop and asked Lyoya for his driver’s license several times before the suspect opened the driver’s door and spoke briefly with a passenger inside the vehicle, the videos showed.

Officer Schurr told Lyoya that the plate on the vehicle he was driving belonged on another vehicle, bodycam footage showed.

“The plate doesn’t belong on this car,” the officer said twice.

Lyoya did not respond.

A moment later, Lyoya closed the door and started walking around the front of the car, at which point the officer stopped him as he tried to pull away.

Lyoya took off running during the ensuing confrontation, heading around the back end of the suspect vehicle before the officer tackled him on the lawn of a nearby home, the videos showed.

The lone officer repeatedly ordered the suspect to put his hands behind his back and to stop resisting, but Lyoya did not comply.

Chief Winstrom said Officer Schurr deployed his Taser twice during the struggle, but that the barbs went into the ground both times.

The officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to stop resisting and to “let go of the Taser,” the video showed.

Chief Winstrom said it appeared that the officer and the suspect both had a grip on the weapon for approximately 90 seconds as the fight continued.

Cellphone footage recorded by the passenger in Lyoya’s car showed the officer trying to keep the combative suspect on the ground during the brawl.

“Let go of the Taser! Drop the Taser!” Officer Schurr yelled multiple times.

The suspect and the officer were both on the ground fighting over the weapon when the officer drew his duty weapon, the video showed.

Officer Schurr fired a single round, striking Lyoya in the head, Chief Winstrom said.

Questions remain regarding whether the vehicle Lyoya was driving at the time of the traffic stop was stolen.

Lyoya’s Michigan criminal history shows he was arrested three times on felony possession of stolen vehicles offenses in the past.

Each of those charges were ultimately pleaded down to misdemeanors, with his longest jail sentence running just 181 days.

The Kentwood Police Department (KPD) arrested Lyoya for assaulting a pregnant woman on April 4, 2017.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor domestic violence and was sentenced to one year on probation and $545 in fines and fees for that offense.

Lyoya was also charged with driving while intoxicated on at least three occasions, including one instance where he had a passenger in the vehicle who was under the age of 16.

He was charged with driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license at least twice.

Lyoya’s criminal history also includes at least two incidents in which the GRPD requested warrants for his arrest for several offenses, to include a charge of obstruction.

The status of those warrants was unclear.

The Grand Rapids police officer who fatally shot Lyoya has received 14 letters of recognition during his seven years of service as a law enforcement officer.

According to Officer Schurr’s personnel file, he has been recognized by his department more than a dozen times for his exemplary police work, WXMI reported.

Many of the letters of recognition involved apprehending dangerous criminals, seizing firearms and drugs, and apprehending fleeing suspects.

Officer Schurr’s personnel file revealed he has no history of use-of-force complaints against him, WXMI reported.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting is investigated, as is protocol for all such incidents.

No charges have been filed in connection with Lyoya’s death, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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