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Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against ex-GRPD officer Christopher Schurr

Christopher Schurr, a former officer with the Grand Rapids Police Department, is charged with second-degree murder for the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya.
Schurr enters court 03072024.jpg
Posted at 11:30 PM, Feb 02, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A judge has denied a motion requested by defense attorneys to dismiss the second-degree murder charges against Christopher Schurr.

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.

WATCH:

WATCH FULL HEARING: Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against ex-GRPD officer Christopher Schurr

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.

Last month, 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.

“This Court should quash the bind-over order because the statute charged, as applied to Officer Schurr, violates his right to due process because the element of justification is void for vagueness.”

When announcing the decision to bind Schurr’s case over to Circuit Court on Oct. 31, District Court Judge Nicholas Ayoub noted three legal justifications Schurr’s defense argued for the use of deadly force in the shooting death of Lyoya:

  • The common law fleeing felon rule
  • In response to force being used by the arrestee
  • Self-defense

He also laid out the four elements of second-degree murder: (1) a death, (2) caused by an act of the defendant, (3) with malice, and (4) without justification.

WATCH: Judge Ayoub rules ex-GRPD officer will stand trial

Judge announces Christopher Schurr will stand trial for death of Patrick Lyoya

In his ruling, Judge Ayoub stated there was little question concerning the first three elements. The only real question, the judge stated, was whether Schurr’s actions were justified under any of the three legal theories argued by the defense.

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 last month claims, “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. 24asking 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.

During Friday’s hearing, Christopher Schurr’s attorney Matt Borgula argued the former officer had the right to use deadly force under the circumstances.

“Patrick Lyoya was fleeing because he did not want to be arrested. And so, the law affords police officers the right to arrest somebody in those circumstances. And the law affords him the right to use deadly force under certain circumstances. We're still arguing about that, but the facts are relatively undisputed,” said Borgula.

The Circuit Court judge said there’s only one justice system for both police officers and civilians when it comes to a second-degree murder charge.

The defense argued that because Schurr was an officer, who feared for his life and was making a lawful felonious arrest, he’s protected by his title.

Judge Elmore said that’s not up to the court to decide but for a jury to deliberate.

“I’m unaware of any officer being charged with murder for making a lawful arrest,” argued Borgula.

Judge Elmore responded, “They can’t make a lawful arrest if the person is deceased.”

Friday morning, Judge Elmore upheld the District Court’s decision to send the case to Circuit Court saying the case will proceed to trial. Schurr’s trial is currently scheduled to begin on March 13.

Christopher Schurr was not in court for the hearing, as motions like this do not require the defendant to be present. His defense says their next step is to appeal Judge Elmore's decision, which could delay the start of the trial.

Schurr is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by attorneys Ven Johnson and Ben Crump on behalf of the Lyoya family which accuses the former police officer of racial profiling.

Officer Christopher Schurr chases Patrick Lyoya on April 4, 2022
GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr chases Patrick Lyoya on April 4, 2022

Read the full motion to quash filed by Schurr’s attorneys and Prosecutor Becker’s response below.

Motion to Quash:

Schurr - Motion to Quash by WXMI on Scribd

Prosecutor Christopher Becker's Response:

Schurr - Response to Defendant's Motion to Quash Bindover and Dismiss Charge by WXMI on Scribd

Looking for more coverage of the deadly shooting of Patrick Lyoya and the case against Christopher Schurr?

Check out our timeline of events related to the deadly shooting of Patrick Lyoya and click here to find more articles about the case.

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