A Michigan judge ruled Monday morning that prosecutors presented enough evidence for ex-Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr to stand trial for fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya, an unarmed Black man, in April.
Kent County Prosecutors charged Schurr with second-degree murder after he shot 26-year-old Lyoya in the back of the head at point-blank range while pinning him to the ground.
After a two-day preliminary examination hearing last week, Judge Nicholas Ayoub determined there was enough probable cause presented in court hearings for Schurr to stand trial. A jury will ultimately decide if Schurr’s use of deadly force was justified.
Ayoub wrote in an opinion that prosecutors had demonstrated evidence that could lead someone to “conclude that defendant’s shooting of Lyoya in the back of the head was not reasonably necessary to prevent his escape.”
A trial date has not yet been scheduled.
Schurr approached Lyoya on a residential street on April 4 and said his license plate was not registered to the vehicle he was driving. Lyoya tried to get away and ran around the car, but Schurr chased him and the two began to struggle in the front yard of a home. The encounter was filmed by a witness and partially captured by Schurr’s body camera, though that footage cuts out moments before the shooting.
Schurr tased Lyoya, who grabbed at the taser to try to stop it from shocking him. After telling Lyoya to let go, Schurr shot him in the back of the head while Lyoya was facedown on the ground. An independent autopsy confirmed Lyoya was shot in the back of the head.
The shooting sparked nationwide outrage and conversations in Grand Rapids on policing. Police reformers have long called for changes in how police handle minor traffic stops.
Several witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing, including Aime Tuyishme, Lyoya’s close friend who was riding with him in the vehicle that morning and recorded the fatal shooting on his cell phone.
Another witness, Wayne Butler, testified that Schurr had the “upper hand” against Lyoya during the entire struggle.