HEATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The family of the man shot by a Michigan State Police trooper near Hamilton this week wants answers about what led up to his death. They feel those answers will be harder to learn without a body camera recording.
On Monday, one MSP trooper was dispatched to a breaking and entering call off of Oak Drive near 132nd Avenue. Police encountered who they initially described as a male suspect, later identified as 31-year-old Virgil Lee Taylor.
Taylor was in the yard when the trooper, who has not yet been identified, pulled up to the scene. An altercation began between the two, described by MSP as "violent and prolonged."
The trooper then fired his gun, killing Taylor. Lifesaving efforts were performed at the scene but were ultimately unsuccessful.
The family has questions about what led up to the shooting.
They say Taylor was a gentle, family-oriented person who would have only attacked if he felt he was in fear of his life.
“It just doesn’t add up. We can’t wrap our heads around it, and our hearts are breaking. We just don’t know," said Taylor's cousin Lanora Kendall. "I feel like there must have been some other kind of altercation. Virgil Lee had to be in fear of being harmed or he wouldn’t even of touched the officer."
The family has yet to hear the audio captured from the trooper's dashcam in his vehicle. At the time of the shooting, the trooper was not wearing a body camera.
Most patrol troopers on the MSP force do not wear body cameras. They are only assigned to certain units with MSP saying most citizen interactions are captured from the dashcam recording in their vehicle. MSP added they have no plans for wider use of dashcams due to cost.
"If he knew he didn’t have the body camera on, like again, why didn’t he park the car so that it was getting on camera?" asked Kendall. "His car should have picked that up."
The family wants more explanations about what occurred and continues to struggle in their grieving process as they search for more answers.
"We lost a great person. Someone that brought excitement to our life. All we can do is mourn and grieve and hope to find out the answers of what has happened because I know the family is never going to stop until we do," said Kayla Mares, another cousin.
FOX 17 has requested the autopsy report, the 911 call and the dashcam video. All of those materials are currently being withheld during the ongoing investigation.