Christopher Schurr — a police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head on April 4 — has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, the district attorney announced Thursday. Kent County, Chris Becker.
Second degree murder is considered a felony. If convicted, Schurr could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Becker said the second-degree murder charge was the most serious possible, given the evidence he reviewed — there was no indication of premeditation on Schurr’s part, he said, which prevented a charge of first degree murder.
Schurr has surrendered, Becker said, and his arraignment could come as early as Friday. He is likely to face trial in Kent County, with Becker’s office overseeing the case.
“I wouldn’t charge him if I didn’t think I could prove it,” Becker told media gathered at the Michigan State Police compound just northwest of Grand Rapids.
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Lyoya, who was 26 at the time of his shooting, was a Congolese refugee. His death sparked protests in Grand Rapids, Detroit and elsewhere over the police department’s conduct with the city’s black residents and sparked discussions about the city’s commitment to racial equity, which she had pledged to improve in the wake of protests against racial injustice in 2020.
Schurr, who had worked for the Grand Rapids Police Department since 2015, was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting. Police Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed Schurr’s name to the public on April 25.
Footage released April 13 by police shows Schurr shooting Lyoya on the morning of April 4 in Grand Rapids. Schurr, who is white, told Lyoya he stopped his car because the license plate did not match the vehicle.
Lyoya, who seemed confused by what Schurr was saying, got out of his vehicle, prompting Schurr to tell him to go inside and provide his driver’s license.
Lyoya fled from Schurr, prompting a chase in the front yards of nearby homes. Schurr eventually tackled Lyoya, the two struggled and Schurr could be heard telling Lyoya to “stop” and “drop the Taser”, in the footage. Schurr’s stun gun was deployed twice but never made contact.
After about 90 seconds, Schurr was on top of Lyoya, who was face down. Schurr, still shouting “drop the Taser!” shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
The shooting was investigated by Michigan State Police, who turned their investigation over to Becker.
“The death was not justified or excused … by self-defense,” Becker said after announcing the charges.
In addition to protests calling for Schurr to be charged for the shooting, Lyoya’s family, attorneys and national figures like the Reverend Al Sharpton had called for Schurr to be charged.
Contribute: The Associated Press