A Grand Rapids, Michigan police chief is recommending that a white officer, charged with second-degree murder for killing a black man during a chaotic traffic, stop be suspended and ultimately fired, as the officer faces arraignment on Friday.
Prosecutors also revealed a new mugshot of Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr, who surrendered to authorities on Thursday.
Schurr will be formally charged today after Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker on Thursday announced his determination that Schurr was not acting in self-defense and intended to kill when he shot Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old black man.
Schurr shot Lyoya in the back of his head as they wrestled after Lyoya tried to flee a traffic stop on April 4th.
Also on Thursday, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said that he would submit his recommendation to the city, but the decision will ultimately up to City Manager Mark Washington.
If Washington agrees with Winstrom’s recommendation, Schurr will be suspended without pay and then Washington will decide if Schurr will be fired.
The police chief said his department had not received Michigan State Police’s investigation into the shooting death but based his decision on prosecutor’s assessment of the investigation as well as the video of Lyoya’s death and internal affair’s interview with Schurr, MLive.com reported
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Prosecutors also revealed a new mugshot of Grand Rapids Officer Christopher Schurr, days after his arrest
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom (pictured) said that he would submit a letter to the city manager recommending that officer Schurr be suspended without pay and fired
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has been vocal about the case, characterized the charge as a step forward in a statement.
‘We are encouraged by attorney Christopher Becker’s decision to charge Christopher Schurr for the brutal killing of Patrick Lyoya, which we all witnessed when the video footage was released to the public,’ Crump said.
‘While the road to justice for Patrick and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction. Officer Schurr must be held accountable for his decision to pursue an unarmed Patrick, ultimately shooting him in the back of the head and killing him – for nothing more than a traffic stop.’
Schurr had pulled Lyoya over because he said the license plates on his car didn’t match the vehicle.
The city police department released footage of the shooting taken from the dashboard of the officer’s squad car, from his body-worn camera and from a neighbor’s surveillance camera shortly after.
Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr. He was charged with second-degree murder on Thursday for the killing of Patrick Lyoya
Bodycam footage of the shooting showing the Schurr grabbing Lyoya during the traffic stop in April
The footage shows Lyoya, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, stepping out of the car on a rainy street of Griggs and Nelson SE, seemingly confused and asking ‘What did I do?’ as the officer repeatedly asks for a driver’s license and orders him to get back inside the vehicle.
‘I’m stopping ya, do you have a license? Do you have a driver’s license, do you speak English?’ he asks.
Lyoya confirms in the video that he speaks English and opens the driver’s side door as he speaks to his passenger.
He then shuts his door, turns his back to the officer and appears to walk away.
‘No, no, no, stop, stop,’ the officer is heard saying, and puts his hands on Lyoya’s shoulder.
Lyoya is seen pushing back against the officer and then starts running until the officer tackles him to the ground.
He and the cop grapple in front of several homes while Lyoya’s passenger got out and watched.
The officer repeatedly orders Lyoya to ‘let go’ of his Taser, at one point demanding: ‘Drop the Taser!’
It is not clear from any of the videos if or when Lyoya tried to grab the cop’s Taser, but the cop is heard yelling at him to let go of the device, which was deployed twice, but didn’t strike anyone, officials said.
Schurr’s body-camera footage from the incident showing him pressing Lyoya’s head to the ground in the moments before the shooting
An image from Lyoya’s autopsy report showing the trajectory of the single bullet that killed him
At this point, the officer’s body camera suddenly goes blank.
Additional video footage — from the neighbor’s doorbell security system, the dashcam in the officer’s vehicle, and a bystander’s cellphone — capture different angles of the incident.
Schurr and Lyoya are seen in the alternate footage getting back up to a standing position while they fight and then going back down to the ground.
In the final moments before the gun shot, the officer was on top of Lyoya, kneeling on his back at times to subdue him.
The officer points his weapon at the back of Lyoya’s head and a gunshot is heard.
Multiple officers arrived within 10 minutes and attempted to revive Lyoya.
At this point a sergeant rolled Lyoya over and found the officer’s Taser and his bodycam according to a report reviewed by CNN.
Audio from a neighborhood home surveillance camera also captured the sound of the officer shooting Lyoya in the back of the head.
Attorneys for Lyoya’s family have called the death an ‘execution.’
Around 1,000 people attended Lyoya’s funeral where Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a fiery eulogy on April 22.
Schurr has been a police officer since 2015. His personnel file shows no complaints of excessive force but much praise for traffic stops and foot chases that led to arrests and the seizure of guns and drugs.
The shooting turned into an immediate crisis for Chief Winstrom, who was a commander in Chicago before taking charge in Grand Rapids early in March.
At a community forum in April, Winstrom said he wanted to put more emphasis on officers knowing how to turn down the heat during tense situations.
‘I guarantee that we can do more,’ he said. ‘Actually, that’s one of the things I’ve already reached out to my colleagues to say, “Hey, I need some curriculum, because we are going to beef it up.”‘