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Patrick Lyoya's criminal record 'irrelevant,' says family attorney, Ven Johnson

Patrick Lyoya had several charges in Kent County, including an active warrant for second offense domestic violence out of Wyoming.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Ven Johnson, one of the attorneys representing Patrick Lyoya's family, is addressing Lyoya's criminal record in West Michigan.     

Some have questioned whether or not an active warrant might have played a role in his client's actions leading up to the fatal officer-involved shooting during a traffic stop on Monday, April 4 near the intersection of Griggs Street and Nelson Avenue SE in Grand Rapids.  

The active warrant was for a second offense domestic violence charge and was signed on April 1 in the City of Wyoming, just three days before Lyoya was shot and killed by Ofc. Christopher Schurr, who was identified Monday.

Grand Rapids Chief Eric Winstrom released the officer's name in the interest of transparency, "to reduce on-going speculation and to avoid any further confusion."  

13 ON YOUR SIDE asked Johnson if the warrant was a reason why Lyoya tried to run from Ofc. Schurr, to which Johnson responded that it could or could not have been, but nobody knows for sure, because Lyoya can't answer that question himself.

He also says it doesn't matter why Lyoya tried to run, because the officer can't use deadly force simply because Lyoya wasn't complying.

Body-worn camera shows Lyoya and Ofc. Schurr struggling over control of the officer's taser for up to two minutes, however Johnson maintains his client was not being violent towards the officer. 

After the physical struggle, Lyoya was shot and killed. An independent autopsy report showed that he was shot in the back of the head.

Johnson adds that, for the purposes of a civil suit, Lyoya's criminal record is completely irrelevant and in an overwhelming majority of cases it won't come into evidence at the time of trial.

"Because the police officer would not have had the opportunity to do a full search of my client's criminal history," said Johnson. "Hence, the only thing you heard Officer Schurr say on the video to my client was, your license plate doesn't match my car. Not only is that not a misdemeanor, it's a traffic offense." 

Some of the other charges Lyoya had out of Kent County included stolen property, driving while unlicensed, providing false information or report, failing to stop at a scene of property damage, and some other driving-related offenses.

13 ON YOUR SIDE has filed public records requests to learn more about the officer's background and any possible disciplinary records of misconduct.

According to Johnson, he sent a formal letter to Mayor Rosalynn Bliss Tuesday afternoon offering the city an opportunity to avoid a potential civil suit.

Officer Schurr remains on administrative leave. He has been stripped of his police powers until the conclusion of the Michigan State Police investigation into potential criminal charges.  

Once MSP's investigation is complete, their findings will be given to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office for the next steps.

GRPD has also launched an Internal Affairs investigation to determine whether all applicable departmental policies were followed.

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