Police Officer Charged With Murder in Driver's Death

Patrick Lyoya, 26, was killed by a shot to the head during a traffic stop
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2022 4:30 PM CDT
Police Officer Charged With Murder in Driver's Death
Patrick Lyoya's mother, Dorcas Lyoya, attends the funeral for her son Patrick at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ Family Life Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., in April.   (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

The Michigan police officer who killed Patrick Lyoya, a Black man, with a shot to the back of his head has been charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutor Chris Becker announced charges Thursday against Grand Rapids officer Christopher Schurr, weeks after Lyoya was killed following a chaotic traffic stop on April 4. The 26-year-old Lyoya was on the ground when he was killed, the AP reports. The shooting was recorded on video by a bystander. "The death was not justified or excused ... by self defense," Becker said, referring to an element of second-degree murder.

Schurr, who is white, told Lyoya that he stopped his car because the license plate didn’t match the vehicle. Roughly a minute into the stop, Lyoya began to run after he was asked to produce a driver's license. Schurr caught him quickly, and the two struggled across a front lawn. The officer demanded that Lyoya "let go" of Schurr’s Taser before he fired the fatal shot. Becker said he consulted experts from outside Michigan about the use of force in the case. Attorney Ven Johnson in Detroit, with at least one member of Lyoya's family present, said the prosecutor called Johnson and the family about two minutes before making the announcement that the officer is being charged. "You will not see any celebration on behalf of the Lyoya family," Johnson said.

The Grand Rapids police chief released video from four sources on April 13. Attorneys for Lyoya's family have called the death an execution. Schurr has been a police officer since 2015. His personnel file shows no complaints of excessive force but much praise for traffic stops and foot chases that led to arrests and the seizure of guns and drugs. The shooting turned into an immediate crisis for police Chief Eric Winstrom, who was a commander in Chicago before taking charge in Grand Rapids early in March. At a community forum in April, Winstrom said he wanted to put more emphasis on officers knowing how to turn down the heat during tense situations.

(Read more Patrick Lyoya stories.)

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