Officer charged in fatal shooting of unarmed Black man will go to trial

Patrick Lyoya's death prompted local protests.

October 31, 2022, 10:48 AM

A Grand Rapids police officer charged with second-degree murder of Patrick Lyoya will go to trial.

Christopher Schurr, a seven-year veteran of the Grand Rapids Police Department, has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Nicholas Ayoub reviewed evidence presented in Schurr's preliminary hearing last week.

"Factual questions remain as to whether the defendant reasonably believed that his life was in imminent danger, or that he was in an imminent danger of suffering great bodily harm, and that deadly force was reasonably necessary,” Ayoub told the court on Monday. "These are questions of fact that the jury must decide based on the totality of the circumstances, as presented by the evidence at a trial."

Lyoya, a 26-year-old native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was shot in the head on April 4 after Schurr pulled him over for a faulty license plate. His death prompted protests throughout Grand Rapids.

PHOTO: Patrick Lyoyas parents Peter Lyoya (L) and Dorcas Lyoya pose for a portrait as they hold a photo of their son at their home in Lansing, Mich., April 15, 2022.
Patrick Lyoyas parents Peter Lyoya (L) and Dorcas Lyoya pose for a portrait as they hold a photo of their son at their home in Lansing, Mich., April 15, 2022. Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of the head and killed during a traffic stop on April 4th by a Grand Rapids police officer.
The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE

Body camera video showed Schurr shouting at Lyoya to "get in the car." The footage was released nine days after the shooting.

Schurr can be heard asking Lyoya if he spoke English and then demanding that Lyoya show his driver's license. Lyoya turned to a passenger in the car, closed the door and started to walk away from Schurr, according to the video.

Lyoya started to run. Schurr grabbed Lyoya and struggled with him before eventually forcing him to the ground, shouting "Stop resisting," "Let go" and "Drop the Taser," according to the video. The body camera was deactivated during the struggle, according to police.

Police said Lyoya grabbed at Schurr's stun gun during the altercation. Schurr then shot Lyoya while he was on the ground, according to cellphone footage of the incident.

Cellphone footage from Lyoya's friend Aime Tuiishme showed the moment Schurr shot Lyoya in the back of the head. The fatal shot was confirmed by both an independent autopsy report as well as the Kent County medical examiner.

Neighborhood resident Wayne Butler spoke to the court on Thursday, describing the altercation as "wrestling" and noted that Lyoya was not "on the offensive."

Schurr was fired from the Grand Rapids Police Department in June after waiving his right to a discharge hearing.

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