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An attorney for Lyoya family says Patrick Lyoya’s criminal past is irrelevant

Atty. Ven Johnson
Ven Johnson Law / Near Perfect Media
Atty. Ven Johnson

An attorney for the Lyoya family says Patrick Lyoya’s criminal past – including traffic violations and a pending domestic violence warrant - are irrelevant. Attorney Ven Johnson tells WGVU’s Patrick Center that history would have been unknown to the officer at the time of the traffic stop.

“What the relevant inquiry will be in a civil case is; what did this police officer know, and not know, about Patrick Lyoya? And at that time, this officer had no clue of what his criminal history was because he would have no ability to find that out.”

No clue explains Detroit-based attorney Ven Johnson because when Grand Rapids Police officer Christopher Schurr makes the April 4th traffic stop, he’s unable to match the car with the plate with the driver.

“This officer, Schurr, had no idea what Patrick’s criminal history was because he said nothing about it, of course nor should he have, as part of his initial traffic stop. What Schurr said is, ‘Hey, this license plate doesn’t match this car.’ That’s the quote.”

When officer Schurr made physical contact with Lyoya, the 26-year old Congolese man ran away. It led to a foot chase and a struggle over the officer’s taser. It ends with Schurr on top of Lyoya, who is face down, fatally shooting Lyoya in the back of the head?

Johnson admits Lyoya ran, but why he ran, no one will ever know.

“When you’re talking about an interaction with a police officer, obviously you’re looking at two people and what they said and what they did and what they knew and what they didn’t know. In this particular instance, since Patrick has been shot and killed, he can’t speak for himself. So, anything that anybody wants to ascribe to his motives for doing anything is complete and utter speculation.”

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.