NATIONAL NEWS

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

FILE - Former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr listens as Judge Nicholas Ayoub binds ...

FILE - Former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr listens as Judge Nicholas Ayoub binds the case for trial at the Kent County Courthouse, Oct. 31, 2022, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Lawyers for the 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. The court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, in the case against 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. (Cory Morse/MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, Pool, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Cory Morse/MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, Pool, File)

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.

National News

Associated Press

Shooting at a party in Alabama’s capital leaves 13 injured, officials say

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A shooting at a crowded party in Alabama’s capital left 13 people injured — nine of whom were shot, officials said Sunday. Four other people were injured in the subsequent chaos. Mayor Steven L. Reed said in a statement that police and medics responded to reports of gunshot victims at 1:46 […]

27 minutes ago

Associated Press

Millions in the US prepare for more sweltering heat as floodwaters inundate parts of the Midwest

Millions of Americans prepared to sweat through yet another scorching day, with the potential for rolling storms later Sunday to bring relief from the sweltering heat for at least some. Floodwaters inundated parts of the Midwest, including a town in Iowa evacuated after being submerged up to the rooftops. Across the country in California, daily […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Ten people are injured in a shooting in Columbus, Ohio. Police are searching for a suspect

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio say 10 people were injured, including one seriously, in a shooting in Columbus. The shooting occurred early Sunday in the Short North Arts District, local media said, quoting law enforcement. The Columbus Police Department said all the injured were males, eight adults and two youths who ranged in […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Philadelphia police officer shot by fleeing suspect is in critical condition

A Philadelphia police officer was shot in the neck and was in critical condition Saturday night, officials said. The 31-year-old officer was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at Temple University Hospital, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said during a news conference outside the hospital. The officer, a veteran of more than six years on the […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

A fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store, police say

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store. The person died Saturday evening, Arkansas state police said in a statement. A total of 14 people were wounded in Friday’s shooting, according to police: “11 civilians, two law enforcement officers and the […]

15 hours ago

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

17 hours ago

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