GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in the case of the former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Patrick Lyoya.
Schurr shot and killed Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop on April 4, 2022. Two months later, on June 9, the Kent County prosecutor announced a second-degree murder charge against him. On June 10, Schurr was fired from the Grand Rapids Police Department.
Last October, a district court judge ruled there was enough probable cause to send the case to trial. Schurr’s attorneys appealed that decision, which a Kent County judge denied in February. The defense team then took the same request to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
This is not a question of whether or not Schurr shot and killed Lyoya during the traffic stop but whether he should stand trial for second-degree murder.
Schurr’s attorneys have claimed self-defense and argue Michigan common law gives officers the right to use deadly force against a fleeing felon.
“We are talking about justification and certain people under the law are justified to do things that others are not. If you take a knife and cut open my abdomen, you would be charged with attempted murder probably. But If I go over to Spectrum and the surgeon cuts open my chest, he is justified in doing so,” said Matthew Borgula, Schurr’s attorney, during Wednesday’s hearing.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, said the law requires the use of reasonable force and that the shooting was not justified.
“If officers can use force when met with any force during the course of the arrest, I agree with Judge Feeney that we are going to have some results where there are people who are incompetent. There are people with mental disabilities that do not know what is going on or might be drunk then all of the sudden they are at risk of being shot just in a mere traffic stop,” said Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Katie Wendt.
Schurr’s trial was initially set for March, then was pushed to October. It’s unclear now when the trial will be held, as it cannot move forward until the court of appeals makes a decision. That could take weeks.
If the court denies the request, the defense could appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, delaying things even further.
–News 8’s Meghan Bunchman contributed to this report.