Judge To Determine Whether Cop Charged In Patrick Lyoya’s Death Will Stand Trial

Christopher Schurr, a former officer with the Grand Rapids Police Department, was charged with second-degree murder for shooting the unarmed Black man.
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A hearing is taking place in Michigan on Thursday to determine whether Christopher Schurr, the former Grand Rapids police officer charged with second-degree murder for killing unarmed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, will stand trial.

Schurr shot Lyoya, a Congolese refugee, in the back of the head at close range on April 4 while pinning him to the ground. He was the first officer with the department to be charged in the death of a civilian and was fired in June.

Schurr’s legal team is appearing in court on Thursday for a preliminary exam hearing, during which a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for the former officer to stand trial in the next month.

Lyoya’s family arrived inside the courtroom after 8:30 a.m. Security was expected to be present ― there have been confrontations at previous hearings, including a shouting match between supporters of Lyoya and Schurr inside the courtroom in June.

The shooting quickly garnered national attention, and civil rights activist Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy during Lyoya’s funeral. Sharpton called on the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, but the department has not opened its own probe.

At Thursday’s hearing, Aime Tuyishme, Lyoya’s close friend who described him as like a “brother,” and others shared further details about what happened that day.

Much is already known, thanks to footage from both a body camera and Tuyishme’s cellphone. Body camera footage from shows Schurr approaching Lyoya during a traffic stop and telling him that his license plate was not registered to the vehicle he was driving.

Lyoya tried to get away from Schurr, but the officer grabbed him and pinned him to the ground, slamming his head on the grass and kneeling on his back.

Wayne Butler, another witness who took the stand, said he came outside as the struggle was just beginning. While the encounter between Schurr and Lyoya was described as a “wrestling match” in the courtroom, Butler said that Schurr had the upper hand during the entire encounter.

“The officer has control of Patrick the whole time. And when I say control, I mean physical control. It’s like a wrestling match, but the officer is always winning 60/40,” Butler said.

Schurr tried to shock him with a stun gun, but Lyoya grabbed it and attempted to block it from striking him.

Police claim that at this point, Schurr’s body camera stopped working. But Tuyishme captured the shooting on his phone.

Tuyishme testified that he was inside the car when Schurr first approached, then got out and started recording when he saw Lyoya and Schurr begin to struggle.

“I got out the car and I took out my phone,” he said. Tuyishme’s footage played in the courtroom during his testimony.

Tuyishme’s video captured Lyoya and Schurr struggling. He can be heard on the video questioning Schurr’s tactics as the officer took Lyoya to the ground and kneeled on his back before ultimately pulling out his firearm.

Schurr can be heard saying, “Let go of the Taser.” The officer then reached for his gun and shot Lyoya in the head.

An independent autopsy confirmed Lyoya was shot in the back of the head.

Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Nicholas Calati, who arrived to the scene after the shooting, also testified on Thursday. He said he told Schurr to go wait by his car while others attempted to render aid to Lyoya. Calati told prosecutors multiple officers were already at the scene prior to his arrival.

Schurr’s bond was set for $100,000 and he was released from Calhoun County jail in June.

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