GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A preliminary hearing date has been set for the former Grand Rapids police officer accused of murder after shooting Patrick Lyoya in April.
The preliminary hearing in Chris Schurr’s second-degree murder case has been scheduled for Oct. 27. If it requires two days of testimony, it will stretch to the 28th. At the end of it, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
Some anti-police activists attended the brief Friday court session at which the hearing date was decided. One posed a question to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker as he prepared to leave the courtroom.
“Why doesn’t Schurr have to appear for the court date like everyone else?” the activist inquired.
Becker said, “It’s up to the judge,” to which the woman responded, “Preferential treatment.”
The preliminary hearing has twice been pushed back, with Schurr’s attorneys saying they needed time to go through documents and obtain and review Grand Rapids Police Department training records dating back seven years.
Lyoya’s family criticized the delay, with his father saying in August that each postponement was “like a knife in my heart.”
“My heart is still broken,” Peter Lyoya said, an interpreter translating his native Swahili into English. “And I don’t know how I’m going to find peace in my heart.”
The shooting happened 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.
That Schurr killed Lyoya is not in question. What a jury will have to decide is whether it constituted murder. The attorneys for Lyoya’s family have argued that Schurr repeatedly failed to deescalate the interaction and the second-degree murder charge means the prosecutor decided the shooting could not be justified by self-defense. Schurr’s attorneys argue he acted in accordance with GRPD policy and that his use of deadly force was justified.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Schurr faces a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. He has been fired from GRPD.