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Grand Rapids cop gets second-degree murder charge for the killing of Patrick Lyoya

By Sam Tunningley |
June 12, 2022
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Grand Rapids protest against police crimes
Grand Rapids protest against police crimes (Fight Back! News/staff)

Grand Rapids, MI - Christopher Schurr, the Grand Rapids cop who executed Patrick Lyoya, has been charged with second-degree murder by Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker. Charges were announced at a June 9 press conference. The decision comes nine weeks after Lyoya was gunned down at a traffic stop on April 4. The family, along with local activist groups, have called for Schurr to be fired and charged with murder. Schurr turned himself in to officials in Calhoun County, and termination from Grand Rapids Police Department is now proceeding, according to Chief of Police Eric Winstrom.

The Michigan State Police investigated the case while Schurr took paid administrative leave. Concerns about impartiality grew after it was revealed Becker had accepted a $1000 campaign donation in 2016 from the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association, who have thrown their full support behind Schurr. The police union also donated to the campaigns of Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and two city commissioners.

Lyoya’s family is represented by attorney Ben Crump, who has handled several high-profile shootings including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Crump has stated the video clearly demonstrates excessive force and no attempts at de-escalation.

Since the incident, groups such as Voices of the Revolution and Black Activists United have held weekly protests, often attended by the family. A downtown rally held on April 16 was attended by hundreds of protesters.

So far, two city commission meetings have been recessed over “disruptions” from activists, who expressed anger at the hypocrisy of officials refusing to take action on police brutality until they were thrust into the national spotlight. Before the shooting of Patrick Lyoya, protesters were frequently harassed and arrested by local cops during demonstrations. The concerns were brought in front of the commissioners at almost every meeting for years.

Lyoya, 26, was a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was pulled over by Schurr, who wrestled with an unarmed Patrick after drawing his taser. Schurr’s body camera shut off mere seconds before he shot Lyoya in the back of the head, prompting public speculation over whether the gap in footage was intentional.

Prosecutor Becker reported today that Officer Schurr’s body camera can only be turned off if the shut off mechanism is pressed continuously for three full seconds, throwing suspicion on GRPD’s reported assumption that it was turned off by accident as a result of pressure caused by the altercation. He also stated that according to the law and the evidence presented, self-defense is not a viable justification for this killing.

Prosecutor Becker further stated that he would not have decided to press charges if the evidence did not clearly show that Schurr is guilty, and he will be pursuing conviction which could result in life in prison with parole.

Peter Lyoya, Patrick’s father, stated in an interview after the announcement that he was beginning to believe there was no justice in this country, until today. He said it was the video evidence which led to reenactments of the murder during protest marches organized by the young Black activists of this community that turned the tide.

Activists and community members held a rally in front of the Grand Rapids police headquarters after the announcement, celebrating the charges while reminding all present that this represents a first step in the long process to achieve justice for Patrick Lyoya.