Updated as of 1/11/2023 at 9:24 a.m. ET
State District Court Judge Nicholas Ayoub previously announced former officer Christopher Schurr will stand trial for the second-degree murder of Patrick Lyoya. However, Schurr’s attorneys have pushed back, seeking a motion to dismiss the ruling that a jury trial be held, per The Associated Press.
The report says their reasoning is that Schurr was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Lyoya. In addition, under Michigan state law, police are allowed to use deadly force to stop someone from fleeing and to make an arrest. That statute is a concern all on its own. District Judge Ayoub ruled that a jury trial must decide if said deadly force was necessary.
“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,” per the motion obtained by Mlive.
The attorneys also claim there was not sufficient evidence to prove Schurr’s actions were not justified under the Self-Defense Act. However, the witnesses’ chilling recounts of what happened tell a different story.
According to The Associated Press, two witnesses who saw the incident were called to the stand. One witness, Aime Tuyishime, was sitting in the passenger seat of Lyoya’s car when he was apprehended. He said the two of them were drinking the night before at a party and had come from grabbing some beer, per Fox 2 Detroit. Reports say Lyoya’s blood alcohol level was .29 when he died.
Once Lyoya and the officer began wrestling on the ground, Tuyishime said he hopped out of the car to start recording. Another witness saw the incident from their house and also expressed an uneasy feeling watching the officer approach Lyoya.
More on the witness testimony from AP News:
Wayne Butler was getting out of a morning shower when he noticed police lights flashing on his street. He said he was instantly concerned when he saw Lyoya, the driver, outside of the car.
“I could tell Patrick was confused. The confusion is, first of all, you shouldn’t have been out of the car as an African-American male,” said Butler, 41, who is Black. “Don’t you know he’s got a gun, he’s got a Taser, he could kill you? Clearly he didn’t know what the rules in America are about traffic stops.”
Butler said Lyoya began running “like he was disoriented playing tag on two front lawns” before Schurr quickly caught him and the two men began a “wrestling match.”
“The officer is always winning, 60-40. He always had the lead; it wasn’t by much,” Butler said. “You could tell he was getting worn out, but he always had the upper hand.”
Butler said he stopped watching in order to retrieve his phone to record video. As a result, he didn’t see the shooting.
There are a few conflicting arguments regarding the moments leading up to the shooting. A forensic video analyst also found that Schurr gave Lyoya 20 commands he didn’t heed to. However, Butler said he believes Lyoya didn’t understand the commands given the language barrier. Previous reports stated Lyoya is a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Another expert said Schurr discharged the Taser but didn’t strike anyone. However, the device was still operable. Schurr’s defense claim Lyoya tried to grab hold of the Taser and the shooting was simply the former officer was acting in self-defense.
Though, the execution style in which Lyoya was killed (shot in the back of the head) leads the public to believe otherwise. If Schurr is convicted in the second-degree murder charge, he could be looking at life in prison.