GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced Thursday that a second-degree murder charge has been filed against Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr in connection to the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya.
Becker said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that Schurr has turned himself in and will likely be arraigned Friday.
This charge is a felony that carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
Prosecutor Becker said his office did not file a felony firearm charge in addition to second-degree murder and said they cannot do so during this case due to Michigan law.
The NAACP Grand Rapids branch agrees with the decision to charge the officer, and shared this statement:
"There have been too many incidents where people of color have been killed at the hands of law enforcement, whose top priority should be to protect and serve all citizens. Although this is a step in the right direction, we hope that all involved in this next phase will operate without bias and ultimately, Officer Christopher Schurr will be convicted for his heinous actions."
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also released the following statement Thursday afternoon in response to the charging decision in the Patrick Lyoya case:
"At the Department of Attorney General, we understand the exceptional resources needed to evaluate police-involved shooting deaths and I commend Prosecutor Becker, his team and the Michigan State Police for the exhaustive review conducted these last two months. We must now respect the judicial process and allow the facts of the case to be presented in court," Nessel said in a statement Thursday.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Lyoya family along with Ven Johnson, released a statement responding to the charges:
“We are encouraged by attorney Christopher Becker’s decision to charge Christopher Schurr for the brutal killing of Patrick Lyoya, which we all witnessed when the video footage was released to the public," Crump wrote. "While the road to justice for Patrick and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction. 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.”
This announcement comes more than two months after the shooting, which stemmed from a traffic stop.
The shooting happened Monday, April 4 just after 8 a.m. near the intersection of Griggs Street and Nelson Avenue SE in Grand Rapids. Schurr had pulled Lyoya over, who was driving with a friend in the passenger seat.
Lyoya got out of his vehicle to speak with Schurr. After a brief physical struggle, Lyoya was shot in the back of the head and killed.
The investigation was handed to Michigan State Police, who sent Becker their partial findings on April 28. Becker received the full report May 31.
An Internal Affairs investigation was also launched at GRPD to determine whether all applicable departmental policies were followed.
Schurr was placed on paid leave and stripped of his police powers pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The union that represents police officers in Grand Rapids said they're backing Officer Schurr.
13 ON YOUR SIDE received multiple documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, including nearly an hour of audio recordings between police and first responders, as well as reports filed about the Grand Rapids Police Department officer-involved shooting on April 4.
After Lyoya’s death, community members gathered to protest Schurr's actions and to demand justice. Since April, three city commission meetings were dismissed early due to activists calling for justice.
Last month, an investigation was launched after vandals targeted the homes of some city commissioners.
Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing the Lyoya family, also called for justice and demanded that the Kent County Prosecutor announce charges against Schurr by May 25.
City leaders will hold a press conference after the decision is announced to address the decision and the process moving forward. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City Manager Mark Washington, Oversight and Public Accountability Director Brandon Davis and Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom will speak at the conference.
13 ON YOUR SIDE will have ongoing coverage of the Lyoya case on-air and online.
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