Patrick Lyoya: The officer who caused the death of the black man will be tried for the murder in Grand Rapids, Michigan
The former white police officer who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya, a black man, this year in Michigan will be tried for murder, according to a judge’s memo posted online and announced in court Monday.
Former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr faces a single charge of second-degree murder, state District Court Judge Nicholas Ayoub said. He pleaded not guilty.
Lyoya’s final moments were captured on video released to the public showing him running away from Schurr before he was tackled to the ground and shot in the back of the head. As the dead of other black men at the hands of the policethe Lyoya case prompted protests, with protesters chanting “Justice for Patrick.”
Second degree murder in Michigan is a death caused by the defendant with malice and without justification or excuse.
The judge on Monday found that there was no genuine question whether the officer’s actions caused Lyoya’s death with malice, saying: “The only real arguable issue here is whether the officer’s actions accused were justified under the law”.
The prosecution presented probable cause to support the charge, Ayoub told the courtroom, describing his own role as having “very limited control” over prosecutors. A jury will be charged with the more comprehensive job of determining the facts and the verdict in the case, he said.
“The reasonableness of these actions can be fully and fairly judged by a person in a black robe with 20/20 hindsight and from the comfortable and safe vantage point of the high perch of the armored judge’s bench,” the judge he said to those who attended.
“It is precisely for this reason, however, that questions of reasonableness and all questions of fact are determined by a jury after a full and fair trial.”
Wearing a gray suit, Schurr did not visibly react to the decision. His defense attorney waived the circuit court charge on his behalf, and the judge ruled that the bond would be continued.
Lyoya family attorneys Ben Crump and Ven Johnson praised the judge’s decision.
“The case now goes to trial, which is the next step in our quest to achieve full and complete justice for the murder of Patrick Lyoya,” they said in a statement. “Our legal team will continue to fight to ensure that former Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr and the City of Grand Rapids are held accountable for their actions.”
The sentence comes just over six months after Schurr fatally shot Lyoya during a struggle as the officer tried to arrest him during a traffic stop. Schurr and Lyoya grappled with their Taser, and after Lyoya gained control of the weapon, Schurr drew his firearm and killed him, the judge said in recounting the facts of the case
Schurr was “justified in his use of force,” his attorney Mark Dodge argued. It was shot about two months after the encounter.
Lyoya had three outstanding warrants and a revoked driver’s license at the time he fled the traffic stop.
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