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Grand Rapids officer charged with second-degree murder in shooting of Patrick Lyoya, prosecutor says

A Grand Rapids Police officer asks Patrick Lyoya if he speaks English, as he stands near a car during a traffic stop, shortly before he was shot dead by the officer during a scuffle on a suburban front lawn in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. April 4, 2022 in a still image from police body camera video. Video taken April 4, 2022. Grand Rapids Police/Handout via REUTERS
Originally Published: 09 JUN 22 15:06 ET
Updated: 09 JUN 22 15:31 ET

(CNN) — Grand Rapids Police Department Officer Christopher Schurr was charged Thursday with one count of second-degree murder in the death of Patrick Lyoya, who was shot in the back of the head during a struggle after an April traffic stop, a Michigan prosecutor said.

Lyoya, a Black man, was shot to death on April 4 by Schurr, a White officer trying to arrest him after a traffic stop in a case that has drawn national attention. Lyoya’s final moments were captured in multiple videos later released to the public.

“This is not a message. This is just based on the facts and making a decision in this case,” Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Becker told reporters Thursday.

Becker said he had spoken with Lyoya’s family and had sent them a letter in their native Swahili.

In a statement, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel commended Becker and the state police for “the exhaustive review conducted these last two months.”

“We must now respect the judicial process and allow the facts of the case to be presented in court,” he added.

In May, Becker announced he was seeking guidance from outside experts before deciding whether to charge the officer. The city of Grand Rapids placed the officer on paid leave and suspended his police powers after the shooting.

Lyoya, 26, was pulled over by Schurr for an allegedly unregistered license plate. Lyoya got out of the car and ran. He resisted Schurr’s attempt to arrest him, and the officer shot him while the two were on the ground as Schurr wrestled for control of Lyoya.

Lyoya had three outstanding warrants at the time he fled Schurr, and an autopsy revealed his blood-alcohol concentration was more than three times the legal limit.

The death led to protests in Grand Rapids, where other interactions between police and residents drew media scrutiny in a city with a history of tension between Black residents and police.

The shooting led the state’s civil rights agency to renew a request for a pattern-and-practice investigation by the Justice Department into the Grand Rapids Police Department, just one month after a new police chief took office.

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