Michigan court hears arguments over murder charge against ex-police officer who shot Black motorist

Sep 5, 2023, 10:01 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2023, 7:18 am

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Lawyers for a former Michigan police officer are asking the state appeals court to throw out a murder charge in the killing of a Black motorist in 2022.

A court hearing is underway Wednesday in the case against Christopher Schurr, who shot Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head after a morning traffic stop in Grand Rapids turned into a short foot chase and vigorous struggle.

Schurr’s attorneys argued that lower courts wrongly applied the law to the circumstances of Lyoya’s death.

“Common law allows police officers to use deadly force to stop a felon from fleeing when the officer reasonably believed a felony had occurred,” said Matt Borgula, one of Schurr’s attorneys.

A judge in Grand Rapids last year found probable cause to send the second-degree murder case to the Kent County trial court. The evidence included video of the final moments when Schurr fired his gun while on top of Lyoya.

Schurr, who is white, repeatedly told Lyoya, 26, to take his hands off the officer’s Taser, according to the video.

Katie Wendt, an assistant prosecutor, argued Wednesday that Lyoya was not fleeing and that Schurr was in control of the situation when shots were fired.

“This wasn’t a high speed chase situation. (Lyoya) was on the ground and Officer Schurr could have grabbed any of those alternative techniques,” Wendt said.

Wendt urged the appeals court to follow a 1979 state Supreme Court decision in the case of a Detroit police officer who fatally shot a fleeing robbery suspect. The man had suddenly turned with a chair leg in his hands. The court said the question of excessive force should be left for a jury.

There is no timeframe for the Court of Appeals to render a decision after Wednesday’s arguments.

Schurr’s attorneys have argued that he was defending himself. A forensic video analyst, Robert McFarlane, said Lyoya failed to comply with 20 commands.

Nonetheless, a jury could conclude that Schurr “did not reasonably believe that his life was immediately at risk,” Judge Nicholas Ayoub said in ordering a trial.

Schurr, an officer for seven years, was fired in June 2022 after being charged with murder.

Grand Rapids, which has a population of about 200,000, is 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of Detroit.

United States News

Associated Press

Justice Thomas misses Supreme Court session Monday with no explanation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was absent from the court Monday with no explanation. Thomas, 75, also was not participating remotely in arguments, as justices sometimes do when they are ill or otherwise can’t be there in person. Chief Justice John Roberts announced Thomas’ absence, saying that his colleague would still participate […]

35 minutes ago

Associated Press

Police officer, sheriff’s deputy and shooter killed in exchange of gunfire in upstate NY, police say

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) — A police officer and a sheriff’s deputy in upstate New York were shot and killed Sunday night in an exchange of gunfire with another person, who also was killed, police said. The shooting took place shortly after 8 p.m. in suburban Liverpool, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of Syracuse. The […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Trump arrives at court for the start of jury selection in his historic hush-money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump arrived Monday at a New York court for the start of jury selection in his hush money trial, marking a singular moment in American history as the former president and current White House hopeful answers to criminal charges. It’s the first criminal trial of any former U.S. commander-in-chief and […]

11 hours ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

13 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

14 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Sponsored Articles


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Michigan court hears arguments over murder charge against ex-police officer who shot Black motorist