1/26/24 - Appeals Court Rules Enough Evidence For Schurr Trial

file image - Former Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr

The Appeals Court says there is enough evidence to send Christopher Schurr to trial for the murder of Patrick Lyoya.

(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - A split Michigan Court of Appeals panel ruled Thursday that a former Grand Rapids police officer can stand trial on a second-degree murder charge, after the officer fatally shot a Black motorist in April 2022.

In their opinion, Court of Appeals Judges Kathleen Feeney and Colleen O’Brien wrote a district judge did not err in binding former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr over for trial, echoing arguments from prosecutors that it should be up to a jury to decide whether Schurr used appropriate force in fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese refugee, during a traffic stop in southeast Grand Rapids.

In June 2022, Schurr was charged with second-degree murder by the Kent County Prosecutor's office, and was bound over for trial after a preliminary examination in Oct. 2022. Schurr was fired from the department shortly after the charge was announced.

"We agree that there is at least sufficient evidence presented at the preliminary examination to establish probable cause that defendant’s actions did not satisfy the standards for use of deadly force in self-defense," Feeney and O'Brien wrote.

Lyoya had attempted to flee the traffic stop, running away from Schurr. Video released by the Grand Rapids Police Department showed the two engaged in a physical struggle before Schurr ultimately shot Lyoya while Lyoya was facedown in the yard of a nearby home.  

Footage from the shooting of Patrick Lyoya by Grand Rapids Police is released during a press conference Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in downtown Grand Rapids. Lyoya was shot and killed by a city police officer April 4 after a traffic stop.© Cody Scanlan/Holland Sentinel

Schurr’s attorneys had argued that he was acting within his right as a police officer. During the physical struggle, Schurr had attempted twice to deploy his stun gun on Lyoya but missed both times. As the two struggled, Lyoya attempted to grab the stun gun. Just before the officer fired his gun, he yelled, “Let go of the Taser!” 

In a 25-page majority opinion, Feeney and O'Brien wrote that the justification of use-of-force is something that a jury should decide upon.

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