Shocking bodycam footage shows Officer Christopher Schurr shooting the Black man in the head while he was pinned face down on the ground
A Michigan police officer has been charged with the moord of Patrick Lyoya after shocking bodycam footage showed him shooting the Black man in the back of the head at point blank range while he was pinned face down on the ground.
Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr was charged with one count of second-degree murder on Thursday, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker announced at a press conference.
Mr Schurr, who had worked for the police department for seven years, surrendered to authorities earlier in the day and is being held at the Calhoun County Jail.
He is expected to appear in court for his arraignment on Friday.
Lyoya, a 26-year-old who had moved to the US with his family from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014, was shot dead after being pulled over for a traffic stop back on 4 April.
Graphic footage of his death released back in April shows a brief struggle between the two men before the officer pinned Lyoya down on the ground and fired one fatal shot, killing him instantly.
The video sparked protests throughout the City of Grand Rapids, with the victim’s grieving family describing their son’s death as an “execution” and saying he was “killed like an animal”.
Mr Becker said that Lyoya’s family was told about the decision to bring charges against the officer prior to Thursday’s press conference, after they have spent the last two months fighting for justice for their slain son.
Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, tweeted about the officer’s arrest on Thursday afternoon.
Mr Crump has previously questioned whether Lyoya’s real crime was “DWB: driving while Black”.
The officer said he initially pulled Lyoya over for a traffic stop for allegedly driving with an improper licence plate.
The roughly two-and-a-half minute long footage of the deadly incident was released by Grand Rapids Police Department back in April.
It includes clips from four different videos: the officer’s police cruiser dashboard camera, the officer’s body-worn camera, surveillance footage from a nearby home, and cellphone video captured by a person riding in a car with Lyoya.
It begins with the officer pulling Lyoya over in his car at around 8am on 4 April.
When he pulls over, Lyoya exits the vehicle.
“Stay in the car! Dude, I’m stopping you,” the officer says.
Bodycam footage shows Lyoya appearing visibly confused.
The officer asks for his driver’s licence and asks if he speaks English to which Lyoya replies “yes” and asks what he has done wrong.
He then turns to the door and speaks briefly to the passenger inside, before closing the driver’s side door and taking a few slow steps towards the front of the car.
At that moment, the officer starts saying “no, geen, geen, stop” and “put your hands behind your head” and grabs Lyoya by the arms.
A struggle then breaks out with Lyoya pushing the officer away and running to the sidewalk.
The officer tackles him to the ground and the two men continue to struggle on a lawn, with Officer Schurr heard telling Lyoya to “stop resisting”.
Tydens die stryd, the officer fires his taser twice at Lyoya who then appears to grab the device from him.
The bodycam cuts off at that point, before it starts working again seconds later.
It is not clear why the bodycam stopped working during the struggle but cellphone video shot by the passenger in the car captures what happens next.
The officer is seen on top of Lyoya, pinning him face down on the ground while shouting “drop the taser” at him.
Seconds later, the officer then pulls out his firearm and shoots Lyoya in the head at close range. His body goes limp.
The struggle lasted around 90 sekondes. No weapons besides the officer’s gun and taser were found at the scene.
Both an official autopsy and independent autopsy requested by the family determined that the unarmed Black man died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
The Michigan State Police launched an investigation into the incident.
Officer Schurr was placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting and his name was finally released to the public in late April amid mounting pressure from the local community.
Records released by the police department showed that Officer Schurr had no prior complaints of excessive force against him since becoming an officer in 2015.
He had several letters of recognition for traffic stops where he had uncovered drugs, guns and people wanted for crimes, according to the records.
Lyoya’s death marks the latest in a long list of Black people who have been killed by police officers across America in recent years.
Protests demanding an end to police brutality and racism spread across the US in 2020 following the murder of Black man George Floyd.
In that case, his killer white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder.