The April 4 killing was recorded by a bystander and video shows Lyoya was on the ground when he was killed. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said Officer Christopher Schurr acted unreasonably when he shot Lyoya in the back of the head during a traffic stop.
Need to Know
- “The death was not justified or excused … by self defense,” said Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.
- Attorneys for Lyoya’s family have called the death an “execution.” The killing of Lyoya, a Congolese immigrant, sparked outrage in Grand Rapids, where 18% of the city’s 200,000 residents are Black.
- Becker’s decision to charge came after he reviewed state police investigative reports on the shooting, sought additional information from expert sources, and obtained more data from the maker of Schurr’s taser and body cam—which was turned off halfway into the encounter.
KENT COUNTY—The Michigan police officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya was chrarged with second-degree murder on Thursday.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced the charge against Grand Rapids Officer Christopher Schurr, two months after Schurr, who is white, killed Lyoya, who is Black, during a traffic stop.
The April 4 killing was recorded by a bystander and video shows Lyoya was on the ground when he was killed. Becker said Schurr acted unreasonably when he shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
“The death was not justified or excused … by self defense,” Becker said.
Schurr told Lyoya that he stopped his car because the license plate didn’t match his car. About a minute into the stop, Schurr asked Lyoya to show his driver’s license, but Lyoya ran instead. Schurr pursued and tackled Lyoya in a nearby yard and the men engaged in a struggle. At one point, Lyoya reached for the taser in Schurr’s hand. Schurr told Lyoya to let go of his taser and then fired his gun, killing Lyoya.
Becker’s decision to charge came after he reviewed state police investigative reports on the shooting, sought additional information from expert sources, and obtained more data from the maker of Schurr’s taser and body cam—which was turned off halfway into the encounter.
Grand Rapids police chief Eric Winstrom released video from four different sources on April 13.
Attorneys for Lyoya’s family have called the death an “execution” and the killing of Lyoya, a Congolese immigrant, sparked outrage in Grand Rapids, where 18% of the city’s 200,000 residents are Black. Protesters marched through the streets after videos of the shooting were released, demanding the officer be fired and prosecuted.
Local activists also appeared at meetings of the city commission, demanding reforms and accountability and decrying the actions of the city’s police department .
Lyoya family attorney Ben Crump praised the charge as an “encouraging” development.
“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,” Crump said in a statement.
Several members of the Michigan political community reacted to the charge on Thursday.
“Today, the first step toward justice was made for the Lyoya family and the Grand Rapids community,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair, Lavora Barnes, said in a statement. “Mr. Lyoya’s death was senseless and avoidable, and our criminal justice system must hold officers like Christopher Schurr accountable for needlessly taking a life and betraying the trust of Grand Rapids citizens.”
Former Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, a Republican, also endorsed the charge, calling it “appropriate.”
Lyoya had faced his fair share of struggles in Michigan, was arrested several times for domestic violence, and had been convicted for operating while intoxicated three separate times. An autopsy later showed that Lyoya’s blood-alcohol level was 0.29, more than three times the legal driving limit in Michigan. But Lyoya had told friends he was trying to get his life together and his family’s attorneys said his record had no bearing on what happened on April 4.
In the aftermath of the shooting, city leaders said they plan to evaluate police department policies.
Becker said he expects the officer, Christopher Schurr, to be arraigned Friday in Grand Rapids District Court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
BY ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE MICHIGAN—Two months after a federal judge panel ordered Michigan’s redistricting commission to redraw seven...
BY ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, MICHIGAN ADVANCE MICHIGAN—Earlier this month, reproductive rights groups joined together for a lawsuit looking to throw out...
A decision by the Alabama Supreme Court is raising concerns about the future of fertility care. But four US representatives from Michigan are...
Severe thunderstorms with large hail and several possible rare winter tornadoes toppled trees, cut power and damaged homes in the Chicago area and...
These questions have crossed the minds of many—we found the perfect person to answer them bluntly. MICHIGAN—Whether you're a seasoned stoner or just...