Knysz’s confession to Butterfield murder

Eric Knysz listens during his trial for the murder of Trooper Paul Butterfield. (Feb. 20, 2014)

==Editor’s warning: The interview heard in the video above contains some profanity that 24 Hour News 8 has decided not to censor.==

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) — In the early morning hours of Sept. 10, two Michigan State Police troopers interviewed Eric Knysz after his arrest for the fatal shooting of Trooper Paul Butterfield.

The interview was conducted at Munsen Hospital in Traverse City, where Knysz was taken after being shot in the leg by a police officer when he was arrested for the murder. It was played for jurors Friday during Knysz’s murder trial.

As the recording begins, Knysz is read his Miranda Rights and agrees to speak with the troopers without an attorney present.

Below is a transcription of the interview, which was played for a jury in Knysz’s murder trial. The recording is somewhat difficult to hear at times. What follows is our best estimation of the conversation:

Knysz: I’d like to hear everybody else’s story.

Officer: Well, I’d like to hear yours. Eric, I know that you did not get up this morning and expect to shoot a state trooper, did you? So where did it go wrong? What happened that lead to that all happening?

Knysz: It happened fast. It all happened so fast. I just don’t know.

Officer: What were you doing?

Knysz: Coming home.

Officer: Where were you coming from?

Knysz: Ludington.

Officer: Who was with you?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: You know what road you were driving on?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Custer? OK. Then what happened?

Knysz: I seen state police.

Officer: OK.

Knysz: Pulled off the road and turned around and pulled me over.

Officer: OK. Then what happened?

Knysz: He walked up to the car and I shot him. (Inaudible)

Officer: Why did you shoot him?

Knysz: Because I know I would be going to prison.

Officer: Why would you go to prison?

Knysz: Because I was driving on a suspended (inaudible).

Officer: After you shot him, where did you go?

Knysz: I don’t remember. My head was so out of it.

Officer: Did you go far? Did you go home? Did you go to (inaudible)? Did you go home?

Knysz: We went to Dublin Store and that’s where somebody shot me.

Officer: Well, what kind of car were you in when you shot the trooper?

Knysz: In my truck.

Officer: OK. Where is your truck now?

Knysz: I don’t know.

Officer: OK. Did your mom come and get you or-?

Knysz: No.

Officer: How did your mom end up with the truck?

Knysz: We dropped it off.

Officer: OK. Did she drive you somewhere? (pause) What makes you think your mom had the truck, then?

Knysz: (inaudible) I just told you I dropped it off there. What the hell?

Officer: What makes you think-?

Knysz: (Inaudible) I just told you I dropped it off there. What the hell? What makes you think-? I just told you I
dropped it off there.

Officer: (Inaudible) So did you — was she driving it or did you leave it at her house?

Knysz: I left it at her house.

Officer: OK. Well, that makes sense then.  And then what happened?

Knysz: That guy shot me.

Officer: Well, he didn’t shoot you at your mom’s house.

Knysz: That’s what I’m saying. I went to Dublin to get gas and he shot me.

Officer: Well, how did you get to Dublin?

Knysz: I walked.

Officer: You walked to Dublin? How far is that from your mom’s house?

Knysz: About two miles.

Officer: OK. Well, what’s the story with the white car that you were in?

Knysz: What white car?

Officer: White Grand Prix? At the Dublin store? You were in a white Grand Prix at the Dublin store?

Knysz: (Inaudible response)

Officer: How did your wife get to the Dublin Store?

Knysz: She walked with me.

Officer: How far does your mom live from where you shot the trooper?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Eric, did you change your clothes after you shot the trooper, or are those the same clothes you were

Knysz: Same clothes.

Officer: Did you get any blood on you from the trooper?

Knysz: Not that I saw. (Inaudible) truck.

Officer: What was Sarah doing when you pulled over — when the trooper pulled you over. What was she saying?

Knysz: I don’t know. She was panicking.

Officer: Why did you have a gun in your truck?

Knysz: Because people said they were coming after me.

Officer: What people?

Knysz: (Inaudible) bad people.

Officer: Why were bad people coming after you? What kind of bad people? Do you know names, or why would they want to come after you?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Did you steal something from them? Or did you do something to them to make them want to come after you?

Officer: Eric, do you remember what time of day that was that the trooper pulled you over?

Knysz: Should be on the dash cam.

Officer: But you don’t remember? (pause) Was there anybody else in the car with you besides your wife? (pause) That’s a no? (pause) Did you tell anybody what you did? You tell your mom or your dad or anybody? Anybody at your house?  (pause) Eric? Did you tell anybody when you got home?

Knysz: (Inaudible.)

Officer: So your mom didn’t know what happened? Did Sarah tell anybody? (pause) When you were at the Dublin store, when you saw the trooper, what happened there?

Knysz: I went out the back. (Inaudible)

Officer: Is that the same gun at the Dublin Store that you used to shoot the trooper?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Is that a yes?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: What kind of gun is it?

Knysz: 3-5-7

Officer: 3-5-7? OK.

Officer: You know what color it is?

Knysz: Black with a wood handle.

Officer: Black with a grain handle?

Knysz: Wood handle.

Officer: Wood frame handle? OK.

Officer: Whose gun is that?

Knysz: Mine.

Officer: Is it registered?

Knysz: No.

Officer: Where did you get it?

Knysz: From the streets.

Officer: Streets in Grand Rapids? Is that where the bad people from that’s coming after you? (pause) You hang out in Grand Rapids at all? (pause) Do you have a cellphone? (pause) You don’t have a cellphone? (pause) Are you sure you didn’t have a cellphone?

Knysz: I’m sure of it.

Officer: Were you using one when you got stopped? (pause) Were you using one after you got stopped?

Knysz: (Inaudible response)

Officer: Did Sarah have a cellphone?

Knysz: (Inaudible response)

Officer: So you were coming back from Ludington. You and Sarah. Is that correct? (pause) Eric, so you were coming back from Ludington, is that correct?

Knysz: Yes.

Officer: OK. And you were in your red truck. Is that correct?

Knysz: Uh-huh.

Officer: OK. And then you saw a trooper pulling you over and you were on Custer Road?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Is that correct?

Knysz: Yeah.

Officer: All right.

Officer: I need some more water (inaudible).

Officer: All right, I’m gonna get you some more. (Inaudible) All right. (pause) How many times did you shoot the trooper?

Knysz: One time.

Officer: Do you know where you shot him?

Knysz: I believe right up the chin.

Officer: Where was he standing when you shot him?

Knysz: He’d just walked up to the vehicle. Driver side door.

Officer: Right up to the window? (pause) Did you point the gun out – I mean, did you pull the gun outside the window or from right inside the car? How close was it to your body? Was it like up against your chest or was it? (pause) No. OK. (pause) And how far away was the trooper? Like in distance?

Knysz: Five feet.

Officer: Five feet. So, when you shot him, what- Did he fall into the street or did he stumble away? He just fell backwards into the street?

Knysz: Forward into the street.

Officer: Forward into the street. OK. And then, did you get out of your car at all after you shot him?

Knysz: No.

Officer: So, you – what did you do then? You just drove straight away?

Knysz: Yep.

Officer: From there you drove straight to your house or did you go somewhere else?

Knysz: Straight to my house.

Officer: What did you do when you got to your house?

Knysz: (Moaning.) I went to (inaudible) and hung out with my mom for a little while.

Officer: You hung out with your mom for a little while?

Knysz: Yeah.

Officer: Did you change your clothes?

Knysz: No, I did not! You asked me that! I hate when people ask me the same goddamn question!

Officer: So when you hung out with your mom, you never told her what had happened?

Knysz: Nope.

Officer: What was Sarah doing when you were hanging out with your mom?

Knysz: She was saying (inaudible).

Officer: OK. Was she crying or anything?

Knysz: No.

Officer: Did your mom suspect anything?

Knysz: No.

Officer: OK.

Officer: So, you (inaudible) you hung out with your mom?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Was there anybody else there at the house when you were hanging out?

Knysz: No.

Officer: So, just you, your mom, and Sarah.

Knysz: Uh-huh.

Officer: OK. (pause) From when you were done hanging out, what happened next?

Knysz: I went to Dublin and I got shot — like five times. Five or more times. I went to Dublin and got f****n’ shot.

Officer: So you — that Dublin’s thing — when you were at Dublin’s and you saw the trooper you ran out the back door. You heard him yelling at you?

Knysz: After I went out the back door.

Officer: After you went out the back door. OK. Did you point a gun at-?

Knysz: No, I did not.

Officer: OK.

Knysz: Never pointed a gun at anybody.

Officer: So you ran out the back door and how did you get up front? Just ran around the building?

Knysz: (Inaudible) outside.

Officer: Was a trooper chasing you?

Knysz: (Inaudible) before.

Officer: OK.

(inaudible conversation)

Officer: When you came around to the front of the building, is that when you got shot?

Knysz: Yeah.

Officer: OK. (pause) Where was the gun when you got shot? Your gun?

Knysz: In my hand.

Officer: So, it was in your hand. Did you hear the trooper telling you to drop it?

Knysz: Trooper was over here, my gun was pointed this way.

Officer: OK. What was your gun pointing at? What were you looking at?

Knysz: The ground.

Officer: Did he tell you to drop the gun?

Knysz: No.

Officer: Never heard him say drop the gun?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: So, troopers off to your left and you’re facing out toward the street or are you facing back behind where you just came from? (pause) I’m trying to picture-

Knysz: Toward the street.

Officer: So you’re facing toward the street and the gun is pointing at the ground like this?

Knysz: Yeah. And all of a sudden he f****n’ shot me.

Officer: OK. And you didn’t hear him say, “Drop the gun,” or nothing like that?

Knysz: No, but the guys in the back said, “Freeze.”

Officer: Is that –

Knysz: God, I’m so f****d up.

Officer: When you ran around the front and you — is that why you froze, ’cause somebody said ‘freeze?’ Or —

Knysz: I froze because a f****n’ bullet went through my kneecap.

Officer: So you stopped running when you got shot.

Knysz: Uh-huh.

Officer: Where were you running to? Did you have a place where you were trying to get to?

Knysz: No.

Officer: Why didn’t you run straight out towards the woods when you ran out the back door?

Knysz: I know there’s two cops there.

Officer: Where was Sarah when you were running?

Knysz: I think she was in the store.

Officer: Hey, Eric, where was the gun when you were in the store?

Knysz: In my pants.

Officer: OK. Did you pull it out when you went out the back door?

Knysz: Yup.

Officer: Was your head still kinda spinnin’ at that point?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Did you —

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Absolutely. (pause)  So did you think that when you ran out the back door you were gonna use it again? ‘Cause you already shot one —

Knysz: No.

(Inaudible conversation)

Officer: When you and Sarah were standing inside the store there, looked like you were huddled next to a rack. What were you talking about there? Were you talking about giving up at all or did you ever think about giving up?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Was Sarah trying to convince you to give up?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: What was she telling you to do? Run?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Editor’s note: Here, Knysz discusses previous run-ins with law enforcement. The troopers press him for information about the “bad guys” who were after him. He gives few details. He said that he made negative comments about a woman, which started the dispute with the “bad guys.” He also tells police of a time when he was followed by the “bad guys”.

Officer: Eric, the reason I was asking you how you got to that store is because the clerk at the store said that you came in that white car and that you were washing the windows and stuff on it right before the trooper pulled in. So, talk to me about the car.

Knysz: I don’t know whose care that is.

Officer: Where did you get it?

Knysz: I didn’t get it from anywhere.

Officer: OK. Why were you washing the windows on it?

Editor’s note: Here, police further press Knysz about the stolen car, but he won’t admit to stealing it. He also moans repeatedly and gets help from medical staff due the pain from his gunshot wound.

Officer: When you saw the trooper pull off and go to turn around, was the gun in your pants then?

Knysz: No. Right next to me.

Officer: Like in the center console? Or just —

Knysz: On the seat.

Officer: Just sitting right next to you on the seat?

Knysz: Uh-huh.

Officer: At what point did you decide that you were gonna shoot him? When you saw him turn around?

Knysz: Uh-huh.

Officer: Because you were scared to go back?

Knysz: Uh-huh.

Officer: What’s the — I mean, we’ve been up all night, too — what’s the longest you’ve done in jail or been in jail?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: What have you been in jail for?

Knysz: Just — I don’t know — piddly stuff.

Officer: But never in prison, just in the county. (pause) Did Sarah ever try and stop you from shooting the trooper?

Knysz: No.

Officer: She never tried to talk you out of it or nothing?

Knysz: Uh-uh.

Officer: How long you been married to her?

Knysz: Almost two years.

Officer: How long you guys been together?

Knysz: Almost six.

Editor’s note: Here, medical staff assists Knysz.

Officer: Eric?

Knysz: What?

Officer: I’m gonna ask you a question. Did you take the white car from down the street from your house and drive it to the gas station?

Knysz: (Inaudible)

Officer: Were you in the white care when it arrived at the gas station?

Knysz: Yeah I stole it from f****n’ (Inaudible)

Officer: Stole it from (Inaudible)?

Editor’s note: Here, Knysz gives police the details of the theft. Officers tell Knysz they’re going to search his mother’s home and they ask him if there is anything they should look for. He also tells police about discarding the shell casing from the shot fired at Butterfield.

Officer: If you have any questions, have somebody give me a call and I’ll come back. Ok? All right. Good luck, Eric. It is 6:15.



Photos of the murder trial of Eric Knysz

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