The state appeals court is set to deliberate on Wednesday regarding the case of Christopher Schurr, a former police officer in Michigan, facing a murder charge concerning the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist, in 2022.
The incident unfolded during a morning traffic stop in Grand Rapids, escalating into a brief foot chase and a physically intense struggle before Schurr shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
Schurr’s defense team has argued that the lower courts erroneously applied the law to the circumstances surrounding Lyoya’s death.
They assert that Schurr reasonably believed a felony had occurred and that Lyoya had committed it, justifying his use of deadly force to prevent Lyoya from evading arrest. According to the defense, Schurr’s actions were rooted in a genuine concern for public safety.
However, a judge in Grand Rapids previously found probable cause to proceed with a second-degree murder case in Kent County trial court.
The evidence presented included video footage capturing the pivotal moments when Schurr discharged his firearm atop Lyoya. During the encounter, Schurr, who is white, repeatedly instructed the 26-year-old Lyoya to release his grip on the officer’s Taser, as seen in the video.
Nevertheless, the judge, Nicholas Ayoub, opined that a jury could reasonably conclude that Schurr did not genuinely believe that his life was immediately in jeopardy, prompting the order for a trial.
Schurr’s legal representatives have maintained that he acted in self-defense during the altercation. A forensic video analyst, Robert McFarlane, has contended that Lyoya failed to comply with no fewer than 20 commands issued by Schurr.
Schurr, who had served as an officer for seven years, was terminated in June 2022 following the murder charge.
Grand Rapids, a city with a population of approximately 200,000, is situated 160 miles (260 kilometers) to the west of Detroit. The upcoming deliberations by the state appeals court will play a pivotal role in determining the course of justice in this high-profile case.