Michigan appeals court stands by ruling that ex-officer should be tried for murder

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan Court of Appeals on Thursday denied a request to reconsider its earlier opinion, which said a former Grand Rapids police officer should stand trial for killing a Black motorist in 2022.

The court ruled 2-1 on Jan. 25 that it agreed that “at least sufficient evidence was presented” at Christopher Schurr’s preliminary examination “to establish probable cause” that his actions as a Grand Rapids police officer “ did not meet the standards for the use of deadly force in self-defense.”

The second-degree murder charge stems from a morning traffic stop that ended with Schurr shooting Patrick Lyoya, a Congolese immigrant, while on top of him following a traffic stop on April 4, 2022. The fatal shooting was preceded by a brief chase and struggle, according to released video of the incident.

A court had previously decided not to dismiss the charges.

In the video, Schurr, who is white, is seen repeatedly telling Lyoya to take his hands off the officer’s Taser.

“The video evidence showed that Lyoya physically resisted the suspect’s attempts to subdue him, but the video did not show Lyoya physically attacking the suspect – for example, by punching him or hitting him with his knee,” the court said of appeal in his ruling. “It could be deduced from the video evidence that Lyoya had also become fatigued and less able to resist. The evidence further showed that the suspect had requested assistance from other officers and that those officers were on their way, although it is not clear that the suspect (knew) how long it would take before the officers would arrive.

A telephone message and an email seeking comment on Thursday’s court ruling were left for Schurr’s attorney, Matthew Borgula.

Schurr’s defense has urged the appeals court to dismiss the murder charge, saying the law allows the use of deadly force “to prevent a criminal from fleeing when the officer reasonably believed that a crime had occurred.”

Prosecutors argued for a jury to decide the charges.

Schurr was fired in June 2022 after being charged with murder.