Michigan Police Officer Charged With Murder for Execution-Style Shooting of Patrick Lyoya
19:06 GMT 09.06.2022 (Updated: 19:39 GMT 09.06.2022)
© AP Photo / Grand Rapids Police DepartmentA TV display shows video evidence of a Grand Rapids police officer struggling with and shooting Patrick Lyoya at Grand Rapids City Hall on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Lyoya, 26, was shot and killed about 8:10 a.m., on April 4, after what police said was a traffic stop.
© AP Photo / Grand Rapids Police Department
After more than 26 million Americans took to the streets in May and June 2020, demanding justice following the deaths of several Black people at the hands of white officers, many politicians promised reform. However, actual changes have been few and far between, with a powerful pro-police movement emerging in conservative circles.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced on Thursday afternoon that second-degree murder charges were being filed against Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr after Shurr shot a Black motorist in the back of the head in a scuffle following a traffic stop in April.
“The death was not justified or excused ... by self defense,” Becker told reporters.
Protests spread in mid-April after footage of the incident was publicly released. In the videos, Shurr, 31, pulls over Lyoya, 26, for a traffic stop after finding that his license plates are not registered for the car he's driving. Following an exchange, Lyoya attempts to flee the scene on foot and is chased by Shurr, who tackles him to the ground.
In the scuffle that follows, Shurr gets his arms around Lyoya, who surrenders, but who continues to push Shurr's taser gun away from him. Shurr then pulls out his service pistol and places it against the back of Lyoya's head, ordering him to release the taser before shooting Lyoya with his pistol, killing him.
Lyoya was a refugee from the violence in Congo's North Kivu region who reportedly spoke poor English. He struggled with substance abuse, and the autopsy found that at the time of his death, he had a significant amount of alcohol in his system.
Following his death, Michigan lawmakers pledged to reform police procedures, but legislation to set standards for the use of deadly force by police, create a uniform system for investigating police shootings and limit police use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds has stalled since the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police.
Floyd's death, just one of many by Black Americans at the hands of white police officers and vigilantes, set off nationwide protests that snowballed into the country's largest conflagration since the Civil Rights era. The protests coalesced around a wide series of demands, including accountability for police who kill Americans; reducing funding, weaponry, and social prominence for police departments; and abolition of the police in their present form. The protests forced the beginnings of a nationwide reconciliation with the legacy of the country's racist past, which includes the enslavement of Black Americans, racial apartheid, and genocidal policies toward Native Americans.