MICHIGAN (June 9, 2022)—A Michigan prosecutor has charged a Grand Rapids police officer who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop in April with one count of second-degree murder.
Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker announced his decision Thursday after he spent six weeks reviewing forensic and toxicology reports, as well as the results of an official investigation conducted by Michigan State Police.
“This is not a quick decision I took lightly,” Becker said when announcing the charge. “I hope that it sends the message that we take these cases seriously.”
“Everyone thinks prosecutors are an arm or branch for police and we are not … Our duty is pubic safety, we work with them but we don’t work for them.”
Becker said charges have already been filed against Officer Christopher Schurr. The officer has turned himself in and will be arraigned on Friday, he added.
A second-degree murder charge is a felony offense in Michigan punishable up to life in prison.
The prosecution stems from an April 4 encounter where Schurr pulled over Lyoya, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014.
Schurr told Lyoya, 26, that he had stopped him because the license plate didn’t match the vehicle, according to police video released shortly after Lyoya’s death.
Four videos, including from a dashcam and a cellphone, showed Lyoya and Schurr struggling on the ground, with Lyoya apparently trying to take control of the officer’s stun gun. The officer ended up restraining Lyoya with his knee to his back and ultimately shot him as he was facedown on the ground.
His death sparked a string of protests in Grand Rapids, with hundreds demanding justice and transparency from city and police officials.
Lyoya’s family is represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who called for the immediate firing and criminal prosecution of Schurr.