Michigan court to hear dispute over murder charge against ex-police officer who shot Black motorist
A judge found enough evidence to send the second-degree murder case to a trial court. The evidence includes video of the shooting
Lawyers for a former Michigan police officer are asking the state appeals court to throw out a murder charge in the killing of a Black motorist in 2022.
The court is scheduled to hear arguments today in the case against Christopher Schurr, who shot Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head after a morning traffic stop in Grand Rapids turned into a short foot chase and vigorous struggle.
In a filing, Schurr's attorneys said lower courts wrongly applied the law to the circumstances of Lyoya's death.
“Officer Schurr reasonably believed a felony had occurred and reasonably believed that Lyoya had committed that felony, justifying his use of deadly force to prevent Lyoya from fleeing from arrest,” the defense team said.
A judge in Grand Rapids last year found probable cause to send the second-degree murder case to the Kent County trial court. The evidence included video of the final moments when Schurr fired his gun while on top of Lyoya.
Schurr, who is white, repeatedly told Lyoya, 26, to take his hands off the officer’s Taser, according to the video.
Nonetheless, a jury could conclude that Schurr "did not reasonably believe that his life was immediately at risk,” Judge Nicholas Ayoub said in ordering a trial.
Schurr’s attorneys have argued that he was defending himself. A forensic video analyst, Robert McFarlane, said Lyoya failed to comply with 20 commands.
Schurr, an officer for seven years, was fired in June 2022 after being charged with murder.