Officer faces second degree murder charge in killing of Patrick Lyoya

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 06/09/2022, 8:03 PM
Edited: 06/10/2022, 2:57 AM

(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) Christopher Schurr, the Grand Rapids Police Department officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya on April 4, now faces a second degree murder charge. 

Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker announced the charge Thursday afternoon after receiving the full investigation report from the Michigan State Police last week. 

"It's my decision ultimately but I've consulted with attorneys in my office, I've consulted with attorneys outside my office," Becker said. "I've consulted with people I respect. I think I've done everything I could to be as thorough, scripture says decisions are best made when they're made in a group and I tried to do that."

Becker said he spoke to the Lyoya family on the phone Thursday before announcing the charges publicly and gave them a letter translated into their native language Swahili that explains his decision. 

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom was made aware of the decision to charge Schurr on Wednesday. 

Winstrom spoke at a Thursday afternoon press conference other city officials.  

"Based on the information that I have available to me at this time I intend to recommend the city manager immediately suspend Officer Schurr without pay pending termination," said Winstrom. "I recognize the impact this will have on a longtime employee and a friend to many at the Grand Rapids Police Department but I think it is the right thing to do."

Becker said Schurr has turned himself into authorities and is awaiting arraignment. 

Ben Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights attorney who is one of the lawyers representing the Lyoya family, released a statement reacting to the announcement of charges for Christopher Schurr. 

"While the road to justice for Patrick and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction," Crump said. "Officer Schurr must be held accountable for his decision to pursue an unarmed Patrick, ultimately shooting him in the back of the head and killing him - for nothing more than a traffic stop."

The charge against Schurr goes back to April 4, when Schurr shot Lyoya after a struggle during a traffic stop. 

Video released by GRPD chief Eric Winstrom in April shows Lyoya running from Schurr, the two engaging in a physical struggle, Lyoya grabbing a taser, and Schurr shooting Lyoya in the back of the head whilst on top of him.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also released a statement reacting to the charges saying: "We understand the exceptional resources needed to evaluate police-involved shooting deaths and I commend Prosecutor Becker, his team and the Michigan State Police for the exhaustive review conducted these last two months. We must now respect the judicial process and allow the facts of the case to be presented in court."

This story has been updated with information from a Thursday afternoon press conference held by city officials and the Chief of Police. 


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