A former police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Black man after a traffic stop in Grand Rapids, Mich., in April will stand trial for second-degree murder, a state district court judge ruled on Monday.
Judge Nicholas S. Ayoub said in an opinion that he read from the bench at a hearing on Monday that there was probable cause for the former officer, Christopher Schurr, to be tried on a single count of second-degree murder in the killing of Patrick Lyoya on April 4.
Ven Johnson and Ben Crump, lawyers for Mr. Lyoya’s family, said in a statement that a trial “is the next step in our pursuit for obtaining full and complete justice for the murder of Patrick Lyoya.”
“Our legal team will continue to fight to ensure former Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr and the City of Grand Rapids are held accountable for his actions,” they said.
Lawyers for Mr. Schurr, who was fired by the Grand Rapids police in June, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The killing of Mr. Lyoya, who was 26, drew protests in Grand Rapids, a city of about 200,000 people where 18 percent of residents are Black, after the police released videos showing the traffic stop that ended in his death.
The videos show Mr. Lyoya driving through a residential area on the morning of April 4 when an officer, later identified as Mr. Schurr, pulls him over. Mr. Lyoya steps out of his car, the videos show, and appears confused as the officer tells him to get back into the car. The officer asks Mr. Lyoya whether he speaks English.
Mr. Lyoya says he does speak English, and asks, “What did I do wrong?” After a brief exchange about whether Mr. Lyoya has a driver’s license, the officer grabs Mr. Lyoya, who pulls away and starts to run, the video footage shows.
The officer tackles Mr. Lyoya on a nearby lawn, yelling “Stop!” as Mr. Lyoya appears to try to regain his footing. At one point, body camera footage shows Mr. Lyoya grasping for the Taser in the officer’s hand. When the footage was made public in April, Chief Eric Winstrom of the Grand Rapids police said he believed that the Taser was fired twice during the encounter, but that it did not hit anyone.
Midway through the struggle, the officer’s body camera stops filming. Chief Winstrom said at a news conference in April that pressure was applied to the camera to turn it off during the struggle. It was not clear who applied that pressure or whether it was intentional.
Other cameras — from the officer’s vehicle, a nearby doorbell security system and a bystander’s cellphone — captured different portions of the encounter. Shortly before the fatal shot is fired, the officer yells, “Let go of the Taser.” Mr. Lyoya is facing the ground and pushing up, with the officer on top of him, in the moments just before the shooting.