Grand Rapids cop charged with murder in shooting of black man during struggle

Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a black man who was battling the officer during an arrest attempt.

Schurr, after a nearly 3-minute struggle, fatally shot Patrick Lyoya in April after the suspect grabbed his Taser weapon and refused to let go.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced this week that his office is charging Officer Schurr with second-degree murder for the shooting death, Fox 17 reported.

“The elements of second-degree murder are relatively simple. First, there was a death, a death done by the defendant,” Becker said a news conference, according to the Fox affiliate. “And then, when the killing occurred, the defendant had one of these three states of mind: an intent to kill, an intent to do great bodily harm, or the intent to do an act that the natural tendency of that act would be to cause death or great bodily harm. And finally, that the death was not justified or excused, for example, by self-defense. Taking a look at everything that I reviewed in this case, I believe there’s a sufficient basis to proceed on a single account of second-degree murder.”

Caution: Disturbing content

Becker announced his decision after reviewing forensic and toxicology reports, as well as the results of an official investigation conducted by Michigan State Police., NBC News reported.

“This is not a quick decision I took lightly,” he said. “I hope that it sends the message that we take these cases seriously.”

“Everyone thinks prosecutors are an arm or branch for police and we are not … Our duty is public safety, we work with them but we don’t work for them,” Becker added

Schurr is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday and has already turned himself in. The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Schurr is in the Calhoun County Jail at the request of the Kent County Sheriff, this apparently being standard procedure given the circumstances.

Lyoya immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo and he had a lengthy criminal record.

“That includes two convictions for assaulting women, one of whom was pregnant; at least two arrests for crimes involving stolen cars, both of which were reduced to misdemeanors; and repeated drinking and driving, including one for which he was awaiting sentencing on the day he was killed,” The Detroit News reported.

The incident began with a traffic stop, with Lyoya showing little regard for the officer’s instructions from the very beginning, as seen from body cam footage.

“Stay in the car!” Schurr shouted as Lyoya exits his vehicle, ignoring the command that was repeated while asking why he was being stopped. Schurr told him the tag doesn’t match the car and asked Lyoya if he had a driver’s license. The suspect said he did and opened the door to his vehicle and said something to a passenger before shutting the door and trying to walk away.

Officer Schurr then grabs him by his sweater and Lyoya begins resisting, trying to break free from the officer. Once he manages to free himself, Lyoya begins running. Schurr gives chase and fires his Taser. The struggle continues with Lyoya grabbing the Taser with his hand. Officer Schurr tells him repeatedly to no avail to let go of the weapon and to stop resisting. At one point, his body camera is knocked off and stops recording, but a bystander’s phone and a neighbor’s Ring camera continued to record.

“Drop the taser!” an out of breath Schurr is heard saying while on top of Lyoya, who is on his stomach. Shortly after, he pulls his service revolver and fires one shot into the suspect’s head.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has established a lucrative career exploiting cases where he can drive racial discord, represents Lyoya’s family and he released a statement saying the decison to charge the officer is a “crucial step” on what will prove to be a litigious “road to justice.”

 

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