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Attorneys for Lyoya family claim excessive force & gross negligence in civil lawsuit against ex-officer, City of Grand Rapids

The lawsuit seeks two counts of excessive force against ex-GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr in Patrick Lyoya's killing, and claims the City of Grand Rapids is liable.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Eight months after a former Grand Rapids Police officer shot and killed Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop, attorneys representing his family filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court. 

The lawsuit seeks two counts of excessive force against ex-GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr in Patrick Lyoya's killing, and claims the City of Grand Rapids is liable for the "atmosphere at GRPD, which influence Schurr to use excessive force on Lyoya."

Civil rights attorney and activist Ben Crump and Detroit-based attorney Ven Johnson say they have "overwhelming evidence" that "proves racial profiling and excessive force" during the traffic stop that was caught on video showing former GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr shooting Lyoya in the back of the head.

The family is seeking damages, a jury to decide any punitive damages, attorney's fees, and to award Patrick Lyoya's estate medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses. 

"It's clear Schurr unnecessarily escalated the situation involving an unarmed Black man," Ven Johnson said. "At no point did Patrick try to hit, punch, kick or slap Schurr, nor did Patrick ever verbally threaten him. Any claim by Schurr that he was in imminent fear for his life is absolutely unreasonable and untrue." 

Patrick Lyoya's father, Peter Lyoya, spoke through an interpreter and said he wants justice for his son.

"The pain is so deep, the bitterness is so deep every time I think about my son leaving us," Peter Lyoya said. 

"Amazingly, that man is still free. He is at home with his wife and children, while Patrick is buried. Patrick is dead."  

Schurr is facing a separate criminal charge in Lyoya's killing. 

He is charged with second-degree murder. In October, a judge ruled there was enough evidence for the case to go to a jury

"Law enforcement officers in this community cannot continue to be absolved of accountability for shooting first and asking questions later," Ben Crump said.

"The minor punishments officers often receive do not send a message that will deter other officers from repeating this deadly cycle. This pattern needs to end here with justice for Patrick Lyoya."

13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to the City of Grand Rapids for comment on the pending litigation. 

A city spokesperson said the city has not been served with the lawsuit. They did access the pleadings online through the online court filing system and are currently reviewing the legal claims. The City will be issuing a response to the complaint in accordance with the Federal Court Rules. 

You can read the lawsuit here

RELATED: Ex-GRPD officer will face jury in killing of Patrick Lyoya, judge rules

Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker, who is prosecuting Schurr in criminal court, previously said there's no question there was a death and an intent to kill. He said it's up to a jury to decide if the use of deadly force was justified.

"We saw the evidence and we made our arguments," Becker said. "We'll kind of stand on what we said in the corner here today arguing for bind over."

RELATED: 'He was like my son': Congolese pastor remembers Patrick Lyoya

Schurr's attorneys disagree, arguing the prosecutor was unable to prove the action was unreasonable.

"The evidence is shown here that they cannot prove this beyond a reasonable doubt," Schurr's defense attorney Matt Borgula, said. "There's absolutely no evidence to suggest from anybody who's in law enforcement, who's an expert in the field, that this wasn't justified under the circumstances."

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 pulled Lyoya over, who was driving with a friend in the passenger seat.

Lyoya got out of his vehicle, and after a brief physical struggle and fight over the officer's taser, Lyoya was shot in the back of the head and killed.

Schurr was fired from the Grand Rapids Police Department. 


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