SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WOOD) — Lawyers handling Patrick Lyoya’s family’s civil lawsuit say two experts have provided opinions indicating that the former Grand Rapids police officer who shot and killed Lyoya in 2022 used excessive force.

Attorneys Ben Crump and Ven Johnson held a news conference in metro Detroit Monday to discuss “substantial new evidence” in the family’s wrongful death lawsuit. They focused on affidavits from experts about policies and procedures that the attorneys argue former Grand Rapids Police Department Officer Christopher Schurr did not follow.

“We went out and hired experts, state-of-the-art hired experts in the area of what we call police procedures, police misconduct, call it what you will,” Johnson said.

The two experts are Ken Katsaris, the former sheriff of Tallahassee, Florida, and Tom Tiderington, the former chief of police for Plymouth Township, Michigan.

“What we asked Tiderington and Katsaris to do was to go through the video and to analyze what they believe to be the rights and wrongs of what was done,” Johnson said.

He walked through video showing what led up to Lyoya’s April 4, 2022, death, explaining different points that Katsaris and Tiderington made in their affidavits.

“(They) have opined in their affidavits that what we saw here was not only gross derivation, not just a complete ignorance and refusal to follow Schurr’s own training, but even more importantly for us in terms of what we’re talking about, that this deadly force was unnecessary and therefore under the law illegal and excessive,” Johnson said.

Sworn affidavits from Tiderington and Katsaris said Schurr should have warned Lyoya before deploying his taser and shooting him. Tiderington wrote that if Schurr followed proper protocol, Lyoya would likely still be alive today.

“It was unnecessary, objectively unreasonable, and a violation of his training for Schurr to draw his firearm and shoot Lyoya in the back of his head while straddling Lyoya’s back,” read Katsaris’ affidavit.

Katsaris wrote Schurr should have backed up at least 7 feet before deploying the taser and not physically engaged with Lyoya while holding the taser.

Schurr should have been “creating distance and barriers between him and Lyoya,” Katsaris’ affidavit read.

Schurr fatally shot Lyoya on April 4, 2022. Schurr, who has since lost his job, was charged with second-degree murder. A trial has been scheduled for Oct. 24.

The Lyoya family filed the lawsuit in December against the city of Grand Rapids and Schurr. Schurr’s attorneys have asked for the civil suit to be thrown out, saying he is protected by qualified immunity.

His attorneys claim Lyoya fought against him for multiple minutes and that Lyoya had control of Schurr’s taser when he was shot.

Katsaris disagrees.

“I see no video evidence to suggest that Lyoya actively took the Taser from Schurr or otherwise had physical control of the Taser,” he wrote.

Schurr’s attorneys say the officer’s actions were reasonable and he was in fear of his own life. They allege Schurr is protected by qualified immunity because they say he didn’t violate Lyoya’s constitutional rights or established law.

Tinderington countered that Schurr shouldn’t have done the traffic stop in the first place, until after he realized Lyoya had an improperly registered license plate.

Crump claims Lyoya was racially profiled.

“This is simply a case of driving while black. And we don’t ever need to let that issue get swept under the rug,” said Crump.

In a statement to News 8 Monday, Matthew Borgula, Schurr’s attorney in the criminal case, said he had spoken to experts who said Lyoya did not use excessive force:

“The unanimous consensus of police procedure experts to whom I have spoken and who have looked at this case agree that Officer Schurr did not use excessive force and was justified in using force during the arrest of Patrick Lyoya. The plaintiff’s attorneys in this case are likely attempting to try their case, once again, in the public forum.”

Matthew Borgula

Borgula is not representing Schurr in the civil matter; only in the criminal case. News 8 is seeking comment from the attorney representing Schurr in the civil case.

In the criminal case, the second-degree murder trial is set for late October.