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GRPD Chief on delaying release of video: this is not a cover-up

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 23:04:15-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — FOX 17 sat down with Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom regarding the videos of an officer-involved shooting.

We asked GRPD directly about the location of the bullet wound that killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya.

This is what the police department issued as a response:

The county prosecutor has requested that we delay the public release of video and associated evidence related to the officer-involved shooting on April 4. We share the community’s desire to have transparent and timely access to relevant information regarding this incident but also understand Mr. Becker’s concerns. We will continue to work with Mr. Becker’s office to release the relevant video in a way that protects the integrity of the investigation while honoring our commitment to access and accountability.

Chief Winstrom talked broadly Thursday afternoon about the shooting, and where the investigation stands.

The Kent County Prosecutor has asked no information about the investigation be released.

Winstrom, however, has seen the video of the shooting.

He says so has Lyoya's family.

“More important than public transparency for me was making sure that Patrick’s father Peter started the process of closure,” Winstrom said.

Winstrom says he will release the video as soon as the prosecutor's office gives the go-ahead.

He says it was at the prosecutor's office's request they withhold the video.

“I talked to one of Chris’s assistants yesterday. He was strongly advising me that he did not want us to release the video," Winstrom said.

Winstrom saying that public transparency is important to him. But it's important foremost for the family of Lyoya.

“More important than public transparency for me, was making sure that Patrick’s father Peter started the process of closure,” Winstrom said.

The wound is far from closed.

“Such an amazing family. They’re actually supportive of the police. They’re very thankful of how they’ve been treated by us. They’re extremely devastated by the loss of Patrick. They want answers. They want answers for as far as what the investigation reveals.” Winstrom said.

Family of Lyoya was concerned the department would delete video taken on a cell phone by Lyoya's passenger. That passenger is not in custody.

“He was concerned police would erase it. That it would be part of a cover up. One thing that brought him comfort that we weren’t able to release it publicly, he was able to see it. He was given certainty, that that video exists.. and that video will be retained as evidence,” Winstrom said.

Winstrom says he's aware of the consequences of waiting to release the video.

“The longer the video is withheld, the more that there will be calls that there is a cover-up,” Winstrom said.

He promises that is not happening.

“Obviously transparency is very important to us as an agency,” Winstrom said.

Winstrom says GRPD will protect the rights of protesters who have planned to march on Saturday after the death of Lyoya. He says his experience in Chicago being in charge of policing protests will guide him.

“It’s been hundreds of protests…that people ensured that they had their right to make their voices heard. There was no enforcement interaction. There were no injuries, and there was no destruction of property,” Winstrom said.