Protesters demanded justice for the death of Patrick Lyoya, who was shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids cop.
The Grand Rapids cop who shot 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head on April 4 will be charged with second-degree murder, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced Thursday.
Officer Christopher Schurr turned himself in and will soon be arraigned on the felony charge.
If convicted, Schurr faces up to life in prison.
Becker said he hopes the case sends the message that prosecutors are independent of the police.
“We take these cases seriously,” Becker said during a news conference. “Everybody thinks prosecutors are just an arm or branch of the police. We are not. We are our own entity. We have a duty to enforce the law, be it on police or the public.”
The shooting stemmed from a traffic stop
over a mismatched license plate. Lyoya, who is Black, was behind the wheel when Schurr, who is white, pulled him over. Lyoya got out of his car and refused Schurr’s demands to get back in his vehicle.
Grand Rapids Police Department
Video from the officer's body camera caught the moments before the fatal shooting.
“Dude, I’m stopping you,” Schurr said. “Do you have a driver’s license? Do you speak English?”
Schurr tried to grab Lyoya, who fled to a nearby yard, where he was tackled by Schurr. They tussled for a couple of minutes before the cop tried twice to deploy his stun gun.
After Lyoya appeared to grab the stun gun, Schurr pulled out his department-issued pistol and shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
Many people questioned why Schurr, who had no backup, would chase Lyoya over a traffic violation. By tackling Lyoya, Schurr put himself in a situation where he’d likely have to use violent force over what amounts to a traffic ticket.
Becker said he’s confident in his decision to charge Schurr with second-degree murder.
“I wouldn’t charge if I didn’t think I could prove it,” Becker said, adding, “This was not a decision I took lightly.”
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