DETROIT — Immediately following the news that Grand Rapids Police officer Christopher Schurr had been charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Patrick Lyoya, the Congolese refugee's family, attorneys and the community are reacting to the update.
The shooting happened Monday, April 4 around 8 a.m. near the intersection of Griggs Street and Nelson Avenue SE in Grand Rapids. Schurr had pulled Lyoya over, who was driving with a friend in the passenger seat.
After Lyoya got out of his vehicle, Schurr and Lyoya struggled, and Lyoya was shot in the back of the head.
After the Michigan State Police completed their investigation and presented their findings to Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker, he announced Thursday that the officer will face a second-degree murder charge.
Peter Lyoya, the father of Patrick Lyoya, joined the family's attorney Ven Johnson along with other community leaders in Detroit to share their thoughts on the news.
“First I want to say thank you to the prosecutor, that’s what I want to tell the people. I want to say thank you to Ben Crump. I want to say thank you also to Attorney Ven Johnson. My heart was really broken during the past two months because a lot of things were said, I was not quite sure I had the truth in my hand," Peter Lyoya said through an interpreter.
"I was thinking maybe there’s no justice in America, and according to what the prosecutor just said to charge the police officer who killed Patrick...Patrick is not coming back. I’m not going to see him again. And to show at this point that the police officer is charged, it does bring a little bit of consolation to our family, because we see everybody that is here to support us and everybody to stand by us to get justice."
Peter Lyoya wants the officer to be convicted.
“I have lost my son. I have patience. I will wait, I will wait for justice," Peter Lyoya said. “I will wait for justice for my son."
The president of the Grand Rapids branch of the NAACP said he was frankly surprised by this outcome.
“I was shocked to be quite honest. I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked. Because I didn’t expect that. Just being fully transparent, I did not expect that...I knew it should happen, but I did not expect that for a number of reasons," NAACP Grand Rapids branch president Cle Jackson said.
“Now the fight really begins. Because it’s a fight in the courts...and so we will be fighting in the court system to hopefully ensure that there is ultimately a conviction. That’s what it is."
Jackson also asked on behalf of the Lyoya family for peaceful demonstrations and protests that may follow the news.
Roadside Memorial for Patrick Lyoya
“What we do think today shows is something that Ben Crump and I, on behalf of the family, have not just been saying, but have been publicly showing you and proving to you the evidence. That there is no excuse whatsoever for Patrick being shot in the back of the head," Attorney Ven Johnson, who is representing the family of Patrick Lyoya, said.
Johnson said if Lyoya's friend wasn't there to take video of the fatal interaction, there's no way there would be a charge.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who stood by the Lyoya family during his funeral, issued this statement:
“We are encouraged by attorney Christopher Becker’s decision to charge Christopher Schurr for the brutal killing of Patrick Lyoya, which we all witnessed when the video footage was released to the public. While the road to justice for Patrick and his family has just begun, this decision is a crucial step in the right direction," Crump said in a statement.
"Officer Schurr must be held accountable for his decision to pursue an unarmed Patrick, ultimately shooting him in the back of the head and killing him – for nothing more than a traffic stop.”
Ven Johnson says there will be a civil case filed.
A small group of people have gathered downtown outside of GRPD Thursday afternoon to show support for Patrick Lyoya.
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