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Former GRPD officer to stand trial for shooting Patrick Lyoya

lyoya tv.jpg
A TV display shows video evidence of a Grand Rapids police officer struggling with and shooting Patrick Lyoya at Grand Rapids City Hall on Wednesday, April 13. Lyoya, 26, was shot and killed about 8:10 a.m., on April 4, after what police said was a traffic stop.

A former Grand Rapids police officer will stand trial on charges he murdered a man while on duty in April.

Christopher Schurr shot Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head following a traffic stop.

He was charged with second-degree murder in June. His attorneys argued in a preliminary hearing that the charges should be thrown out.

But Monday morning, 61st District Court judge Nicholas Ayoub said there’s enough evidence in the case for a jury to decide Schurr’s fate.

“To be clear, this Court expresses no opinion on that matter or the ultimate guilt or innocence of defendant,” Ayoub wrote in an opinion published on the court’s website. “Law enforcement officers are required to make split-second decisions of life and death which cannot be judged through 20/20 vision of hindsight from the vantage point of the judge’s bench … It is precisely for this reason that defendant must be bound over for trial to allow a jury to make that factual determination taking into account all of the evidence produced at a full and fair trial."

Schurr’s attorneys had argued that Michigan law allows police officers wide discretion to use deadly force against felony suspects who actively resist arrest.

Ayoub seemed to agree with that argument in his opinion, but said the question of whether the shooting was “necessary” should be left to a jury.

“[T]here is at least some evidence from which a person of average intelligence could conclude that defendant’s shooting of Lyoya in the back of the head was not reasonably necessary to prevent his escape,” Ayoub wrote. “As the prosecutor suggests, at the instant that the shot is fired, Lyoya is not in a position of actively escaping or fleeing. A reasonable juror could find a lack of necessity for deadly force strictly for the purpose of preventing escape.”

A date for the trial has not yet been set.

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter for a new project at Michigan Radio that will look at improving economic opportunities for low-income children. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.