Former Michigan Police Officer who Killed Unarmed Black Man Heading to Trial for Second-Degree Murder

Former Michigan Police Officer who Killed Unarmed Black Man Heading to Trial for Second-Degree Murder

A former police officer from Michigan who shot an unarmed Black man in the head in April has been ordered to stand trial for the incident.

According to ABC News, former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr, who killed Patrick Lyoya on April 4 after a traffic stop, will be on trial after being charged with second-degree murder. He has pled not guilty.

The seven-year veteran had a preliminary hearing last week to determine how the court case would proceed. After looking at the evidence presented by the defense and prosecutors, Judge Nicholas Ayoub ruled that the case should be presented to a jury.

“Factual questions remain as to whether the defendant reasonably believed that his life was in imminent danger, or that he was in an imminent danger of suffering great bodily harm, and that deadly force was reasonably necessary,” Ayoub said. “These are questions of fact that the jury must decide based on the totality of the circumstances, as presented by the evidence at a trial.”

Lyoya, a 26-year-old native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was pulled over by Schurr for allegedly having a faulty license plate.

Footage from a body camera worn by Schurr shows the police officer yelling at Lyoya and instructing him to “get in the car.” Schurr is heard asking him if he spoke English and demanding that Lyoya show him his driver’s license. After Lyoya turned to someone in the car, he closed the door and started walking away from the police officer. He then began to flee, and Schurr grabbed him, and a struggle ensued. As they were entangled, Schurr pinned him to the ground and yelled out, “Stop resisting,” “Let go,” and “Drop the Taser.” During the struggle, the camera was deactivated, according to the police.

Lyoya’s friend, Aime Tuiishme, filmed from his mobile phone, and it showed Schurr shooting Lyoya in the head while he was on the ground. Reports from an independent autopsy and the Kent County medical examiner state that he died due to a gunshot to the head.

A local resident, Wayne Butler, told the court last week that the altercation was more like “wrestling” and said that Lyoya was not “on the offensive.”