Police shooting: Official autopsy shows Patrick Lyoya died from gunshot to back of head, ME confirms

ByRay Sanchez, Samantha Beech and Peter Nickeas, CNN, CNNWire
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Autopsy shows man shot in back of head after police encounter: lawyers
An autopsy showed Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of his head, lawyers said. The Grand Rapids Police Department released video of the shooting.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Patrick Lyoya, the 26-year-old Michigan man who was fatally shot by a Grand Rapids police officer during a traffic stop, died from a gunshot to the back of the head, the Kent County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed on Saturday, CNN reported.

The official autopsy also showed Lyoya's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, experts who saw a copy of the medical examiner's report told the Detroit Free Press, which first reported the findings.

The autopsy report from the Kent County Medical Examiner's Office was obtained by the Detroit Free Press under a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA). CNN has requested a complete copy of the report.

The office of the medical examiner confirmed the autopsy results reported by the newspaper are accurate.

The cause of death confirms the findings of an expert hired by the Lyoya family.

In a statement Saturday, attorneys Ven Johnson and Ben Crump, who represent Lyoya's family, called on prosecutors to file criminal charges against the officer for the "unjust killing" and for the release of the Michigan State Police report on the shooting.

A CNN review of state court records found that at the time of the April traffic stop Lyoya had a revoked license and three open arrest warrants. There were a dozen criminal and traffic cases against Lyoya dating back to 2016.

The Lyoya family attorneys declined to comment on the man's blood alcohol level, or his revoked license and open warrants.

Lyoya, a Black man, was shot on April 4 following a foot chase and struggle over a Taser after police pulled him over for an allegedly unregistered license plate.

The officer who fired the shot was identified as Christopher Schurr, who remains on administrative leave and has been stripped of his policing powers, pending a criminal investigation by Michigan State Police and an internal Grand Rapids Police Department probe into whether he violated department policies.

Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Becker could not be reached for comment. He said late last month that his office is reviewing the case and the timing depended on additional pieces of information, including the autopsy report. He gave no time frame for wrapping up his review.

Grand Rapids police released several forms of video footage capturing the approximately two-minute-and-40-second interaction.

The footage begins with the officer walking toward Lyoya's car.

The video showed Lyoya, 26, got out of the car to talk to the officer. He is seen turning his back to the officer and appearing to walk toward the front of the car. The officer put his hands on Lyoya's shoulder and back, saying "no, no, no, stop, stop."

Lyoya is seen resisting the officer's touch and quickly backs away from the officer, running away before the officer tackles him to the ground and tells Lyoya to "stop resisting."

Video showed Lyoya getting up and standing, and the officer deploying a Taser. Police said the Taser was deployed twice but the prongs didn't hit Lyoya.

The two end up physically struggling on the ground, where the officer shot Lyoya, who wasn't armed at the time of the shooting, according to a family attorney.

The officer who shot Lyoya is heard saying "Drop the Taser" before firing the fatal shot.

An autopsy commissioned by Lyoya's family determined he was shot in the back of the head.

The CNN review of state records found Lyoya's driving license was revoked on March 20, 2022, because of a third substance abuse conviction in 10 years. His license was also revoked in 2021 and 2019 for having substance abuse convictions, according to those records. It's unclear whether Schurr was aware of this at the time of the traffic stop.

On April 1, a warrant was issued for Lyoya's arrest in connection with a domestic violence complaint made on the same date. A warrant was issued in another case on April 4 for failure to appear or pay. The judge signed that warrant on the same date that Lyoya was shot by police, but the petition for the warrant was signed March 29.

Another warrant was issued in a case where Lyoya is alleged to have fled the scene of a traffic crash that resulted in property damage. That warrant was issued this February; the crash is alleged to have occurred on Christmas in 2021.

Schurr the officer who fired the shot that killed Lyoya, has worked in law enforcement for about seven years, according to his police union, the Grand Rapid Police Officers Association.

CNN has attempted to reach out to Schurr for comment.

The union said in a previous statement on its Facebook account that it supports Schurr.

The association acknowledged its statement is not intended to "detract from the heartache the Lyoya family is experiencing from the loss of their family member."

"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 video in the player above is from a previous report.