Officer Involved Shooting – Preliminary Information
Published on April 04, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – At 8:11 this morning, an officer initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle near the intersection of Griggs and Nelson SE. The officer was working alone at the time of the stop. The vehicle pulled over and the driver, an adult male, exited the vehicle. After initial contact, the driver fled the scene on foot and the officer gave chase. A passenger remained in the vehicle. Following a brief foot pursuit, a physical altercation between the officer and the driver took place that lasted for several minutes. During that altercation, the officer fired his weapon, striking the individual who died as a result of his injuries. No information is being released on the victim at this time, pending family notification.
The officer was injured in the altercation but was examined on-scene did not require transport to the hospital. The officer joined the department in 2015. In accordance with policy, the officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations.
“These types of incidents are tragic and traumatic for everyone involved,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. “While it has been a very long time since our community was forced to navigate a situation such as this, we’ve done the work up front to establish policies and procedures that ensure a transparent and just process.”
Per GRPD’s policy, the Michigan State Police (MSP) investigates any officer-involved shootings. MSP was immediately notified and responded to the scene to begin the investigatory process.
Both body-worn and in-car camera footage were recovered and will be reviewed and preserved per department regulations. Video from private sources has been made available to MSP and GRPD. Eyewitness reports were taken by MSP. All camera footage will be reviewed as part of the investigation and made available as soon as possible following MSP’s processing of the video and any legally required processing is complete. There are legal and contractual considerations preventing the immediate release of video from an active investigation, but the Grand Rapids Police Department is committed to a transparent process and anticipates publicly providing the video next week.
At this time, the circumstances that led to the stop are not clear, but subsequent inspection confirms the vehicle has a license plate that is not registered to that vehicle.
“It is early in the investigation, so understandably, there are questions,” said GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom. “I am committed to providing information as transparently and quickly as the investigation allows. In addition to MSP’s investigation, this has been referred to our Internal Affairs unit for a full review. We are also working with the City’s Office of Oversight and Public Accountability. In the coming days, I will be making efforts to reach out to the driver’s family, as well as the officer and his family as this was a traumatic event for everyone.”
Standard practice allows for MSP’s criminal investigation to conclude before GRPD’s internal affairs unit will begin conducting their administrative review. The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability will monitor the investigations and review any findings.
“The loss of life is always tragic. I’m praying for our community, and for everyone impacted by this incident. I’m encouraged by the partnership that Chief Winstrom and GRPD have demonstrated. The role of my office to observe and audit the process to ensure it is fair, just, and thorough,” said Brandon Davis, Director of the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability. “Working together through this process will help increase the confidence in the community that this incident was handled transparently and appropriately.”
Once the Michigan State Police completes its investigation, MSP will provide the GRPD with an update and findings regarding this incident. Chief Winstrom and GRPD’s Internal Affairs Division will then review those findings and provide the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability with access to those records. In order to ensure increased accountability, OPA will audit the investigation and provide a report regarding this incident. Additionally, OPA will make recommendations regarding any necessary policy improvements that are brought to light as a result of this investigation and OPA’s audit.
“My prayers go out to everyone impacted by today’s incident. These situations are tragic and can be traumatizing. We have more questions than answers at this point but, we also have the systems in place to respond,” said Rosalynn Bliss, Grand Rapids Mayor. “I understand how emotional this is and recognize the frustrations many in our community might feel. I ask everyone in our community to respect the process and allow the investigators to do their work before reaching any conclusions.”
If anyone has any additional information or video, they are encouraged to contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.