Since his appearance in video of the April 4 encounter with Lyoya (a Black man), Christopher Schurr's identity has been widely circulated. His identity was not publicly disclosed until Monday, when the chief of police released it. This came three days after intense demands were made at the funeral for the native of Congo of 26 years old.
Chief Eric Winstrom stated that he was acting in the "interest of transparency, to decrease ongoing speculation and to avoid any further confusion", though no additional information was available about Schurr’s service to the department.
Lyoya was unarmed and lying face down when he was hit in the back of his head. This happened just moments after a traffic stop at Michigan's second largest city. Schurr was right there demanding Lyoya take the Taser from the white officer.
An forensic pathologist performed an autopsy on the family's request. He stated that the gun was held to Lyoya’s head at the time he was killed.
Monday's phone call to Schurr by the Associated Press sought comment. Schurr is currently not on the job as state police investigate the shooting. Over the past week, the Associated Press reached out to Schurr several times. This included knocking on his suburban door. The AP did not get a response.
Schurr, 31 years old, was raised in Byron Center, south of Grand Rapids. He joined the police force in 2015. After attending Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan, he studied accounting.
According to Siena Heights' alumni journal, he won the NAIA national title with a vault clearance of 17 feet, 3/4 inch and was awarded the university's scholar athlete award as a junior.
According to a 2014 Vaulter Magazine story, Schurr was active in his church as a young man, going on missionary trips for Corinth Reformed Church, Byron Center.
Schurr stated that he was getting married in the same year. He couldn't afford to host a wedding or travel to Kisi, Kenya to build homes. So he chose to get married there.
Schurr stated to the magazine, "We're going do a wedding their way." "I already have an African outfit and my fiancee will choose some fabric to make a Kenyan-style gown.
An account on Twitter with his name appears to be associated with the officer. It follows several national track and field athletes including a pole vaulter. The account does not have any Tweets. An account on Facebook with Schurr's name appears removed.
Ryan Hopson, a college teammate, stated that Schurr was calm and quiet in college. He was friendly and quick with smiles.
Hopson stated that Hopson "always had a positive vibe." Hopson said, "I can't speak highly enough of him. It's impossible. ... It was shocking to me to see him. But, I don't know what it's really like to be a police officer and put my life on the line.
Lyoya's family demands that Schurr be fired and indicted. Chris Becker, the prosecutor, said that he is waiting for the report from state police.
"I want the best for my family. "But I know that even if I do right, there will be a section of the population who is unhappy," Becker stated to MLive.com.
It was a reverse decision by the police department to reveal Schurr’s name. Winstrom stated that he would not release the name of the officer unless he was charged for a crime. It was described by Winstrom as a long-standing policy that applied to both city employees and the public.
Lyoya's family, Black leaders, and the Rev. Al Sharpton repeatedly demanded it, even at Lyoya’s funeral which drew 1000 people on Friday.
Sharpton shouted "We want his Name!"saying authorities can't set a precedent by withholding names of officers who have killed people unless they are charged.
Ven Johnson, an attorney representing the family, stated that Lyoya should now know Schurr's full name. However, he laughed at the chief of police for citing "transparency."
It's not transparent if you keep something hidden for three weeks. Johnson stated that Johnson was quite wrong. Johnson stated, "It's cops taking good care of the cops rather than treating it as a normal investigation."
After Lyoya’s funeral, Grand Rapids' City Manager Mark Washington acknowledged that the city wanted the name of the officer and promised to discuss the matter with Winstrom as well as the city's employment officials.
Grand Rapids is a town of approximately 200,000 people, located in western Michigan 160 miles (257.5 km) west Detroit.