Family sues over police killing of Black Michigan motorist

Dec 6, 2022, 11:17 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 3:12 pm
Peter Lyoya wipes his eyes after looking at video of his son's shooting during a news conference, W...

Peter Lyoya wipes his eyes after looking at video of his son's shooting during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. The family of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. The civil rights suit on behalf of Lyoya's family alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

              Peter Lyoya, left, stands with Kent County Commissioner Womack, and attorney Ben Crum, center, as attorney Ven Johnson, right, talks about body and dash cam video of the shooting of Loyoa's son Patrick during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. The family of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. The civil rights suit on behalf of Lyoya's family alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              Attorney Ven Johnson announces the filing of a civil lawsuit on behalf of Patrick Lyoya's family, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. The family of Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. The civil rights suit on behalf of Lyoya's family alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              Attorney Ben Crump announces the filing of a civil lawsuit on behalf of Patrick Lyoya's family, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              Attorney Ven Johnson points out details in body cam footage after announcing the filing of a civil lawsuit on behalf of Patrick Lyoya's family, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              FILE - A monitor, displayed during a news conference at Grand Rapids, Mich., City Hall, on April 13, 2022, shows a video of a Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop before he was fatally shot by a white police officer. The family of Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in western Michigan, filed a lawsuit Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. (Grand Rapids Police Department, File)
            
              FILE - Ex-Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr appears for a court hearing at the Kent County Courthouse in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Oct. 26, 2022. The family of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by Schurr, filed a lawsuit Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)
            
              Attorney Ven Johnson sitting next to Peter Lyoya announces the filing of a civil lawsuit on behalf of Patrick Lyoya's family, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. Civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Johnson announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against the City of Grand Rapids and former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr. The lawsuit alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              Peter Lyoya wipes his eye as he listens to his family interpreter as he looks at video of his son's shooting during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. The family of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. The civil rights suit on behalf of Lyoya's family alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              Peter Lyoya listens to his family interpreter as he looks at video of his son's shooting during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. The family of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. The civil rights suit on behalf of Lyoya's family alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
            
              Peter Lyoya wipes his eyes after looking at video of his son's shooting during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. The family of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist fatally shot by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Mich., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the now-former officer and the city of Grand Rapids. The civil rights suit on behalf of Lyoya's family alleges unnecessary, illegal and excessive force and gross negligence by then-Officer Christopher Schurr. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT (AP) — A white Grand Rapids police officer who shot and killed a Black motorist during a traffic stop last spring had no reason to pull him over, attorneys for the motorist’s family said after filing a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday.

Christopher Schurr, who was fired by the police department after he was charged with second-degree murder in the April 4 killing of Patrick Lyoya, only stopped Lyoya because of the color of his skin, according to Detroit-based lawyer Ven Johnson and civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

“When you take driving while Black plus excessive force you end up with Patrick Lyoya being unjustly executed by this Grand Rapids police officer,” Crump said during a news conference to announce the lawsuit that names Schurr and Michigan’s second-largest city as defendants.

The lawsuit, which seeks $100 million, accuses Schurr of using unnecessary, illegal and excessive force against Lyoya and showing gross negligence. It also alleges that the city’s police use-of-force policies are misguided and are largely to blame for Lyoya’s death.

The traffic stop and parts of the ensuing struggle between Schurr and Lyoya were captured by the dashboard camera on Schurr’s patrol car and his body camera.

Schurr’s bodycam footage shows that after pulling over Lyoya, he told him that the license plate on his car didn’t match the vehicle.

Lyoya, who was 26, briefly ran from and then grappled with Schurr across a front lawn before the officer shot him at point-blank range. The shooting was recorded on video by a man who was a passenger in Lyoya’s car.

During the struggle, Schurr repeatedly told Lyoya to take his hands off the officer’s Taser, according to video. The refugee from Congo was on the ground when he was killed.

Schurr’s attorney, Matt Borgula, argued during Schurr’s preliminary examination in October that the officer was defending himself and that Lyoya wouldn’t give up.

But during the news conference, Johnson and Crump said the traffic stop only happened because Lyoya was Black.

Johnson said the footage showed that Schurr only stopped Lyoya after they drove by one another and Schurr did a U-turn to follow Lyoya. He said Lyoya’s car only had a rear license plate, which is all that’s required in Michigan, so “Officer Schurr had no idea about that license plate” when he decided to turn and follow Lyoya.

Borgula didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment about the lawsuit, and a spokesperson for the city said the city hadn’t yet received it.

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

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Family sues over police killing of Black Michigan motorist