A Grand Rapids, Michigan, police officer Friday pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for fatally shooting a Black immigrant during a traffic stop. The officer’s lawyer said that his client was “justified” in the amount of force used during the incident.
As bodycam footage shows, on April 4, Patrick Lyoya was pulled over for an allegedly unregistered license plate by Officer Christopher Schurr. Lyoya, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, entered into a struggle with Schurr after attempting to flee on foot, who tackled him to the ground after he caught ahold of Schurr’s taser. Schurr then yelled for him to “stop resisting,” “let go” and “drop the Taser.” After this, the officer shot Lyoya in the back of the head. He was driving on a revoked license with his blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit, and, according to CNN, had three outstanding warrants at the time of the incident.
Schurr, in his motion to the court, stated that he believed he was in danger. He claimed that he saw a Nissan “moving suspiciously slowly and thought it matched the description of a recently reported stolen vehicle.” Upon his suspicion, he continued, he ran the car’s plate and found that it did not match the car. Once Schurr made the traffic stop and the struggle ensued, he thought Lyoya had “obtained full control of the Taser,” thus putting his life “in danger of serious bodily injury or death.”
Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Aaron Tubergen, who investigated the shooting, said in court, “It appears that Patrick was then on his hands and knees. Again, Officer Schurr was on his back. Officer Schurr pulled his duty firearm from its holster and then fired one round into the back of Patrick’s head, causing his body to go limp.”
Schurr has been on paid leave and suspended since the shooting. A probable cause conference is set for June 21.