GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been nearly five months since former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya.
Schurr has since been fired from GRPD and charged with second-degree murder. But the case against him has been delayed twice now, prompting Patrick’s father, Peter Lyoya, to voice his frustrations on Saturday outside the Kent County Courthouse.
Peter Lyoya told News 8 the multiple delays in the case are making him question if he will ever get justice for Patrick.
“The more they’re postponing, it’s like a knife in my heart,” Peter Lyoya said through an interpreter. “I’m bleeding more and more.”
“My heart is still broken,” he said. “And I don’t know how I’m gonna find peace in my heart.”
Two times this summer, Kent County District Court Judge Nicholas Ayoub delayed an important preliminary examination. That hearing is when both sides begin to present their case and a judge decides if there’s enough evidence to send it to trial.
The examination was supposed to happen in July before it was pushed back to this month. It was then canceled with no future date scheduled just yet.
“That’s why Peter is so frustrated, thinking, ‘maybe they’re not taking it serious, maybe they will try to do everything to acquit this guy, to not find this guy guilty,’” Peter Lyoya’s interpreter said. “He cannot understand.”
While no date has been set for the preliminary exam, Becker and Schurr’s attorneys are meeting for a status conference on Sept. 23. They are then expected to discuss the next steps in the case.
Schurr’s attorneys sought the delay. Before the preliminary examination takes place, they want to obtain GRPD training records, policies and procedures from the city, stretching from June 2015 to April 2022.
Ayoub recently approved the subpoena for the city to provide those records.
Matthew Borgula, an attorney for Schurr, said they want the records so they can “effectively prepare to cross-examine the state’s witnesses.”
“That’s all we’re asking for here,” Borgula told News 8. “Nobody wants to get this over with quicker than Officer Schurr.”
Borgula also said the delay isn’t particularly unusual in Michigan’s court system.
“If you look historically at this court and the speed at which things go to prelim and to trial, this is not unusual,” Borgula said. “Especially a case when someone’s charged with murder in the second degree.”
Borgula told News 8 he believes the training materials will bolster their case that Schurr acted in accordance with police policy, justifying the fatal shooting.
“Given the circumstances, given the steps that Officer Schurr took, this case is a case of a justifiable killing,” he said. Not one of a murder.”
The shooting happened on April 4. Schurr pulled over Lyoya, 26, because the car he was driving was carrying plates that didn’t match. Video released by GRPD shows that Lyoya ran away and there was a struggle that included Lyoya grabbing the officer’s Taser. Schurr, who was on top of Lyoya trying to hold him down, shot Lyoya in the back of the head. Schurr was charged with second-degree murder on June 10.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker has opposed the case being delayed. Peter Lyoya said it’s prolonging his family’s pain.
“I’m asking to the judge really to take into consideration and to appease the hearts of Patrick’s brother, Patrick’s relatives and Patrick’s family,” he said.
Peter Lyoya also asked Ayoub to put himself in his shoes.
“I want him to feel the pain that me as a father has,” Peter Lyoya said. “If this happened to the judge, how (would he feel) if this happened to him?”
On Saturday, the Lyoya family was surrounded by advocates showing their support, including a co-leader of Black Lives Matter Lansing and Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack.
“My heart goes out to the Patrick Lyoya family as they navigate through this burdensome system that they are now experiencing,” Womack said.
They all continued what they’ve been calling for along: Justice for Patrick.
“What do we want?” the group shouted. “Justice! When do we want it? Now! Say his name! Patrick Lyoya!”