‘The death was not justified or excused… by self defense,’ – Kent County DA, Chris Becker
Michigan cop is charged with second-degree murder of unarmed black man who he shot in the head following a chaotic traffic stop
Grand Rapids Officer Christopher Schurr shot Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop on April 4, 2022, after Lyoya took off running
On Thursday Kent County officials announced Schurr has been charged with second degree murder for the killing
Schurr, who is white, told Lyoya that he stopped his car because the license plate didn’t match the vehicle’s
Schurr’s bodycam footage from the incident show him kneeling on Lyoya’s back, pressing his head into the grass in the moments before the gunshot is heard
Footage of the shooting sparked outrage across the nation when it was released in April, with calls for justice over a traffic stop that turned deadly
Attorneys for the bereaved family have called the victim’s death an ‘execution.’
If convicted, Schurr faces up to life in prison with the possibility of parole
A White Michigan police officer who killed a 26-year-old black man, with a shot to the back of his head as they wrestled on the ground, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Prosecutor Chris Becker announced the charges on Thursday against Grand Rapids Officer Christopher Schurr, weeks after Patrick Lyoya, was killed following a chaotic traffic stop on April 4.
‘The death was not justified or excused… by self defense,’ Becker said.
‘Based on everything [the detective] has provided to me I’ve made the decision to charge Christopher Schurr with one count of second-degree murder,’ he said, ‘Second-degree murder is a felony offense is punishable by up to life in prison with the possibility of parole.’
Schurr has not yet been arraigned, according to the Kent Country Correctional Facility.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has been vocal about the case, characterized the charge as a step forward in a statement.
‘We are encouraged by attorney Christopher Becker’s decision to charge Christopher Schurr for the brutal killing of Patrick Lyoya, which we all witnessed when the video footage was released to the public,’ Crump said.
‘While the road to justice for Patrick and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction. Officer Schurr must be held accountable for his decision to pursue an unarmed Patrick, ultimately shooting him in the back of the head and killing him – for nothing more than a traffic stop.’ Schurr had pulled Lyoya over because he said the license plates on his car didn’t match the vehicle.
The city police department released footage of the shooting taken from the dashboard of the officer’s squad car, from his body-worn camera and from a neighbor’s surveillance camera shortly after.
The footage shows Lyoya, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, stepping out of the car on a rainy street of Griggs and Nelson SE, seemingly confused and asking ‘What did I do?’ as the officer repeatedly asks for a driver’s license and orders him to get back inside the vehicle.
Schurr’s body-camera footage from the traffic stop on April 4 shows the cop had pulled Lyoya over because he said license plates on his car didn´t match the vehicle. Shortly after Lyoya took off running after the officer starts asking for identification.
First Schurr addresses Lyoya: ‘I’m stopping ya, do you have a license? Do you have a driver’s license, do you speak English?’ he asks.
Lyoya confirms in the video that he speaks English and opens the driver’s side door as he speaks to his passenger.
He then shuts his door, turns his back to the officer and appears to walk away.
‘No, no, no, stop, stop,’ the officer is heard saying, and puts his hands on Lyoya’s shoulder.
Lyoya is seen pushing back against the officer and then starts running until the officer tackles him to the ground.
Subject and cop are seen grappling in an area full of single family while Lyoya’s passenger got out and watched.
Schurr is heard repeatedly ordering Lyoya to ‘let go’ of his Taser. At a point the officer was demanding: ‘Drop the Taser!’
A review of several videos does not show if or when Lyoya tried to grab the cop’s Taser. However Schurr is heard yelling at him to let go of the device, which was deployed twice, but didn’t strike anyone, according to the police report.
At this point, the officer’s body camera suddenly goes blank.
The interaction between officer and target was captured comprehensively as additional video footage from the neighbor’s doorbell security system, the dashcam in the officer’s vehicle, and a bystander’s cellphone, caught different angles of the incident.
Schurr and Lyoya are seen in the alternate footage getting back up to a standing position while they fight and then going back down to the ground.
In the final moments before the gun shot, the officer was on top of the prone Lyoya, kneeling on his back at times to subdue him.
The officer points his weapon at the back of Lyoya’s head and a gunshot is heard.
Multiple officers arrived within 10 minutes and attempted to revive Lyoya.
At this point a sergeant rolled Lyoya over and found the officer’s Taser and his bodycam reports CNN.
Audio from a neighborhood home surveillance camera also captured the sound of the officer shooting Lyoya in the back of the head.
Attorneys for Lyoya’s family have called the death an ‘execution.’
At the time of the funeral, Schurr’s name had not yet been released. Social activist Rev. Al Sharpton told the crowd at one point that authorities cannot set a precedent of withholding the names of officers who kill people.
Around 1,000 people attended Lyoya’s funeral where Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a fiery eulogy on April 22.
‘Every time we are suspected of something you put our name out there… we want his name!’ Sharpton told an impassioned crowd.
Chris Schurr has been a police officer since 2015.
His personnel file shows no complaints of excessive force but much praise for traffic stops and foot chases that led to arrests and the seizure of guns and drugs.
The shooting turned into an immediate crisis for police Chief Eric Winstrom, who was a commander in Chicago before taking charge in Grand Rapids early in March.
At a community forum in April, Chief Winstrom said he wanted to put more emphasis on officers knowing how to turn down the heat during tense situations.
‘I guarantee that we can do more,’ he said. ‘Actually, that’s one of the things I’ve already reached out to my colleagues to say, “Hey, I need some curriculum, because we are going to beef it up.”‘