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Court of Appeals grants ex-GRPD officer Schurr’s request for leave to appeal

Schurr enters court 03072024.jpg
Posted at 3:02 PM, Apr 13, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The question of whether the second-degree murder case against ex-Grand Rapids Police Department officer Christopher Schurr should have been bound over to Circuit Court is back up for debate after the Michigan Appeals Court granted his attorney's request for leave to appeal a motion to quash the bind-over order.

Court of Appeals grants ex-GRPD officer Schurr’s request for leave to appeal

The appeals court issued its ruling on Thursday afternoon, agreeing to hear an appeal filed by Schurr's attorneys.

Schurr is charged with second-degree murder after shooting Patrick Lyoya to death during a traffic stop on April 4, 2022.

Back in February, Circuit Court Judge Christina Elmore heard arguments from Schurr’s attorney and Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker on the motion to quash the second-degree murder charge against the former Grand Rapids police officer accused of killing Patrick Lyoya after a traffic stop turned violent on April 4, 2022.

In a preliminary hearing held over three days in October, a District Court judge determined there was ample probable cause to proceed with the second-degree murder charge and bound the case over to Circuit Court.

In January, lawyers for the former GRPD officer filed a motion arguing the district court overstepped its judgment in making that decision and formally requesting the case be thrown out.

Schurr’s attorneys filed the motion back on January 9, arguing that the case never should have been bound over to Circuit Court, as they believe his actions on April 4 did not meet the legal requirements of a second-degree murder charge.

The judge ultimately ruled there was enough probable cause for Schurr to stand trial and bound the case over to Circuit Court.

The motion filed by Schurr’s legal team claimed, “The district court erred in its legal findings related to the raised defenses, and the government’s evidence presented at the preliminary examination failed to provide disputed facts that would leave any question open for a jury to decide or support a finding that Officer Schurr committed a crime.”

Prosecutor Becker filed his response to the motion on Jan. 24 asking Judge Elmore to deny the defense’s motion to quash the charge, stating the district court did not overstep its judgment in sending the case to trial.

Judge Elmore upheld the District Court’s decision to send the case to Circuit Court saying the case will proceed to trial.

Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals granted a request from Schurr’s attorney and will review the decisions by Judge Ayoub and Judge Elmore.

Schurr's attorney released a statement to FOX 17 Thursday afternoon. "The defense is pleased that the Michigan Court of Appeals granted Officer Schurr’s request for his appeal to be heard. The issues on appeal will not only affect Officer Schurr’s case but will likely have an impact on the way policing is done in the State of Michigan. We look forward to the opportunity to provide additional briefing and arguing this case in the upcoming months."

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker immediately issued a statement following the ruling:

"We were informed by the Michigan Court of Appeals today (April 13, 2023) that they have granted the defense request for leave to appeal and will review the decisions by Judge Ayoub and Judge Elmore to set this case for trial. This was always a possibility and simply means they are reviewing the determination that the defendant was properly bound over for trial. Both parties will have an opportunity to file additional briefs with the court and present oral argument at a time to be set later by the Court of Appeals. We have no additional information at this time."

Thursday’s ruling means legal proceedings in Schurr’s case are paused at the county level.

"Christopher Schurr is like anyone else, as a criminal defendant, at this point. They have the right to exercise all the rights that a criminal defendant would have, whether it's a police officer or not," Criminal Law Professor at WMU-Cooley Law School, Lewis Langham, told FOX 17 Thursday.

This possible delay could impact Lyoya's family as they continue their fight for justice.

"The longer this takes, the more it hurts. To them, it feels like putting salt in a wound. They're not happy with the adjournments, the criminal trial and of course, I do my best to explain, you know, the wheels of justice sometimes go slowly. But to my clients, it feels like they're not moving at all," Ven Johnson, the civil attorney for the Lyoya family, said.

Schurr’s trial is currently scheduled to begin on October 24, but the ruling by the Court of Appeals could cause a delay.

Here's a timeline of everything that has happened since the deadly shooting.

Click here for more coverage on the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya.

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