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Former officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya can stand trial for murder, appeals court says

The former police officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya, a Black man from Michigan, can stand trial for murder, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The Michigan Court of Appeals handed down a 2-1 ruling Thursday, denying an appeal by former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr.

“We agree that there is at least sufficient evidence presented at the preliminary examination to establish probable cause that defendant’s actions did not satisfy the standards for use of deadly force in self-defense,” the opinion said.

Schurr appealed after a district court judge ruled in October 2022 that he should stand trial for one count of second-degree murder. Schurr, who pleaded not guilty, was fired days after being charged in June 2022.

Lyoya was shot to death in April 2022 by Schurr, a White police officer trying to arrest him after a traffic stop in Grand Rapids. Schurr and Lyoya had struggled over the officer’s Taser, and after Lyoya gained control of the weapon, Schurr shot Lyoya in the back of the head as Lyoya was on the ground, authorities said.

The case drew national attention because of the moments leading to the shooting and the multiple videos that show Lyoya’s final moments.

Patrick Lyoya - Attorney Ben Crump
Patrick Lyoya - Attorney Ben Crump

The court acknowledged that it is “uncontested” that Schurr shot and killed Lyoya during a struggle while trying to arrest him and that Lyoya did not follow Schurr’s instructions and attempted to escape. But it rejected Schurr’s arguments the lower court erred by denying his justification of use of force and self-defense.

“Defendant’s argument on its face would suggest that whenever a police officer is met with force in making an arrest, the officer is always justified in using force, including deadly force, in order effectuate an arrest. We reject this blanket rule, concluding that use-of-force in making an arrest is more nuanced than defendant’s brief suggests,” the opinion said.

The appeals court agreed with the district court, which found there “was evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that self-defense did not justify defendant’s actions.”

Schurr’s attorney, Matthew Borgula, said in a statement they are “considering our options going forward” and may appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the majority opinion that there was sufficient evidence to bind the case over for trial, given that it is undisputed that Mr. Lyoya had disarmed Officer Schurr of his taser, which at least one of the judges held was a dangerous weapon as a matter of law,” Borgula said. 

CNN’s Christina Zdanowicz contributed to this report.

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