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Michigan State Police releases video of a man getting hit by an unmarked car

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The MSP has released the footage of an April 17 incident in which an unmarked vehicle driven by an MSU officer struck Samuel Sterling, 25, of Grand Rapids. (Courtesy of the Michigan State Police)
  • Samuel Sterling, 25, of Grand Rapids was struck by a Michigan State Police SUV on April 17
  • MSP released the video footage of the incident on YouTube ‘in the interest of transparency’ 
  • Sterling is heard crying in pain during the video. He died hours later from his injuries.

Michigan State Police has completed its investigation into the death of Samuel Sterling and is referring the case to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for a charging decision, the agency said Friday. 

Sterling, a 25-year-old from Grand Rapids, died hours after being struck by an unmarked MSP vehicle in Kentwood on April 17. 

The state police agency previously suspended — but has not publicly named — the officer who was driving the vehicle, and on Friday released video of the incident “in the interest of transparency.” (Editor’s note: The video is graphic and could be disturbing to some viewers.) 

The video is a “representative sample” of footage from state police, the Grand Rapids Police Department and Wyoming Police Department, and includes footage from three body-worn camera videos and one in-car camera video, according to a statement from the agency

The officer driving the car that hit Sterling was not wearing a body camera because of his assignment with a federal task force, however, and the vehicle he was driving did not have an in-car camera, the agency said. 

Sterling’s death came roughly two years after the April 2022 death of Patrick Lyoya, who was killed after a traffic stop. Christopher Schurr, a former Grand Rapids police officer, is facing one count of second-degree murder in that case but has pleaded not guilty. 

The state police agency previously said it was conducting a fugitive arrest operation with other police departments in Kentwood and officers were attempting to locate Sterling, who was "wanted on multiple warrants."

After being struck by the vehicle, Sterling was taken to the hospital, where he later died. 

Video released Friday shows an officer with the Wyoming Police Department got out of their cruiser and began running. They instructed Sterling to put his hands in the air but the video shows that Sterling kept running.

Then, the unmarked SUV appeared to hit Sterling on the sidewalk, cornering him into a restaurant building. In the video, Sterling is heard moaning in pain, “Why’d you hit me like that?”  

Sterling continued to complain of pain in his stomach and back. One of the officers instructed him to lie on his back and not to move until the EMTs arrived. 

Before the video was released, Col. James F. Grady II, director of the MSP, met with the Sterling family to view the video privately, according to the agency. 

His father, Michael Sterling, told a local news outlet, “I hope they charge (the officer) with the most serious crime that they can because this wasn’t no accident.”

Several top state government officials released statements after state police released the video Friday, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who called Sterling’s death “unacceptable” and said her “heart is with his family and the Grand Rapids community.”

The governor said she has “full faith” that Nessel, the state’s attorney general, “will work quickly to arrive at a fair and just decision as to whether criminal charges are appropriate.” 

Whitmer noted that the trooper who was driving the vehicle has been suspended without pay, but said that “because of video footage showing a departure from MSP protocols and the high standards of the department, my expectation is the State of Michigan will take steps to terminate the trooper’s employment if criminal charges are issued.”

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