GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The former Grand Rapids police officer charged with murder for shooting Patrick Lyoya was not in court for a probable cause conference.
Chris Schurr’s defense team and prosecutor met briefly Tuesday morning, with neither side bringing up any issues that needed to be addressed by the court.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker told News 8 that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, defendants have the option to not appear in court for probable cause conferences. If it were pre-pandemic, he would have been in court. Chris Schurr must appear in person for a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 18.
“Officer Schurr will be here when he’s required to be here,” defense attorney Matthew Borgula told reporters outside the courtroom. “He’s looking forward to his day in court.”
Tuesday’s probable cause conference lasted only a few minutes. The defense left confident, saying they intend on taking this to trial.
“We do think he is innocent and we do think this was a justified action in the scope of his duties,” Borgula said. “When we have a trial in front of a jury with all of the evidence, after we have a chance to review it, we feel very confident that a jury will find him not guilty.”
The shooting happened April 4. Chris Schurr pulled over Lyoya, 26, because the car he was driving was carrying plates that didn’t match. Video released by the Grand Rapids Police Department shows that Lyoya ran away and there was a struggle that included Lyoya grabbing the officer’s Taser. Chris Schurr, who was on top of Lyoya trying to hold him down, shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
Chris Schurr was charged with second-degree murder on June 10. At arraignment, his defense team argued his use of force was appropriate and said he was not guilty. He posted bond and was released from jail the same day.
While Chris Schurr was a no show at Tuesday’s probable cause conference, his grandfather, Paul Schurr, was in attendance. He spoke with News 8 outside the courthouse ahead of the hearing.
“The outcome of the thing was a sad thing, but it’s still going to lose another person who has been good,” Paul Schurr said.
Paul Schurr said he’s been in touch with Schurr and that they spent Father’s Day together.
“He doesn’t show anything, but I know it’s upsetting him,” Paul Schurr said when asked how his grandson has been.
Paul Schurr said he was surprised by the second degree murder charge. He told News 8 he expected a lesser charge.
“I hope he gets exonerated and all his rights given back to him. It’s an unfortunate event,” he said.
The attorneys for Lyoya’s family have argued that Chris Schurr repeatedly failed to deescalate the interaction with Lyoya. The second-degree murder charge means the prosecutor decided the shooting could not be justified by self-defense.
If convicted of murder, Chris Schurr, 31, of Grandville, faces a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
He has been fired from GRPD.