Michigan Cop Charged With Murder In Death Of Patrick Lyoya Is Fired

June 16, 2022

A police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been fired after being charged with second-degree murder last week in the death of Patrick Lyoya. 

City Manager Mark Washington told AP News that the former officer, Christopher Schurr, waived his right to a hearing and was effectively dismissed on Friday, June 10. Schurr’s dismissal was recommended by Police Chief Eric Winstrom after a second-degree murder charge was filed on June 9. 

Lyoya, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was fatally shot in the back of the head by Schurr, a white man, during a traffic stop on April 4. According to CNN, Lyoya tried to flee during the traffic stop. A physical confrontation between the two men ensued. 

Public records revealed Lyoya had three open warrants at the time of the traffic stop, and his license was revoked in March due to a third substance abuse conviction. It’s unclear if Schurr knew of the warrants and revoked license prior to the traffic stop. 

Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Aaron Tubergen, whose agency investigated the shooting, said in a court document supporting the former officer’s arrest warrant that Lyoya tried to get away from Schurr after the officer asked for his license. Lyoya traveled approximately 30 feet from the car before being tackled to the ground. 

The motion states that the officer believed Lyoya had “obtained full control of [his] taser” and that he was “in danger of serious bodily injury or death.” 

According to a transcript of Tubergen’s testimony, the detective sergeant said: “It appears that [Lyoya] was then on his hands and knees. Again, Officer Schurr was on his back. Officer Schurr pulled his duty firearm from its holster and then fired one round into the back of [Lyoya’s] head, causing his body to go limp.” The confrontation and shooting were recorded on video and released to the public in April. 

Schurr was suspended and placed on paid leave while state police investigated the shooting and prosecutor Chris Becker decided whether to pursue charges.The former officer spent one night in jail before being released Friday, June 10, on a $100,000 bond, AP News reported. 

Since the death of Patrick Lyoya, numerous protests have taken place in Grand Rapids, a city with a long history of police brutality against Black residents.

“Two words: about time. What took so long?” Ven Johnson, the attorney of Lyoya’s family, told AP News in response to Schurr’s termination. “They knew this was excessive force and they put him on paid leave while the family buried their son in the middle of the rain.”  

Defense attorneys and the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association have defended Schurr in the wake of the shooting.

“While the road to justice for [Lyoya] and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction,” Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement to ABC News. “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.”

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