GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The attorneys for a former Grand Rapids police officer charged with murdering Patrick Lyoya last spring have asked the court to throw out the case.
The 45-page motion to quash Chris Schurr’s bind-over to Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court and dismiss the second-degree murder charge against him argues that a lower court was wrong to move the case forward.
“The district court erred in its legal findings related to the raised defenses, and the government’s evidence presented at the preliminary examination failed to provide disputed facts that
would leave any question open for a jury to decide or support a finding that Officer Schurr committed a crime,” the Monday motion, which News 8 obtained from Schurr’s attorneys, states.
The defense claimed that under common law in Michigan, officers may use deadly force to stop a suspect from fleeing and to make an arrest. It argued that the district court incorrectly interpreted that common law, applying a standard that the use of force must be “reasonably necessary” when the defense says no such standard exists.
The defense suggested the district court conflated the common law with Michigan’s self-defense law. It argued that police officers, who it said have a duty to pursue, are in a different position than private citizens, who are required to show necessity in a self-defense claim.
The motion also claims the prosecution didn’t prove its assertion that Schurr was not justified in his use of force.
The defense also points to a lack of clarity in Michigan law about when officers should or should not use deadly force.
“At present, it is ambiguous when a police officer may use force, including deadly force, while performing his/her duties and in what instances s/he may be charged with a crime for his/her conduct,” the motion says.
The attorneys argued that issuing a murder charge without that clarity violates Schurr’s 14th Amendment right to due process.
Video shows that Schurr pulled Lyoya over on April 4, 2022, and that Lyoya then ran away from him. There was a struggle that included Lyoya grabbing Schurr’s Taser. Schurr ultimately shot Lyoya in the back of the head, killing him. Lyoya was 26.
Schurr was charged with second-degree murder in June and fired from the Grand Rapids Police Department. In October, a Kent County District Court judge sent his case on to circuit court for trial, saying that it should be up to a jury to review all the evidence and decide whether or not Schurr reasonably believed his life was in danger.
The defense’s motion to dismiss was not unexpected. Schurr’s attorneys had said they would appeal the bind-over.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker told News 8 that his office would be filing a response to the motion within the two weeks allowed by the court.
“We just got it, will review it, and file an appropriate response,” he wrote in an email late Tuesday afternoon.
Lyoya’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Schurr and the city of Grand Rapids, alleging excessive force.