The Michigan police officer who fatally shot Congolese immigrant Patrick Lyoya following a traffic stop in April has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, a state prosecutor announced, per CNN.
The fatal April 4 incident occurred after Lyoya was pulled over by White Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr. Authorities said the license plates on the vehicle Lyoya was driving weren’t registered to it, and he had three outstanding warrants.
When Schurr tried arresting him, Lyoya exited the vehicle and fled. A struggle between the two later ensued, and Schurr ended up shooting Lyoya in the back of the head. An autopsy that was conducted on Lyoya determined his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit.
But Lyoya’s killing made headlines and sparked protests in Grand Rapids. Multiple videos of the incident were also made 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 said Thursday in reference to the charge. Becker said he had also gotten in touch with Lyoya’s family and wrote them a letter in their local Swahili language.
Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom also said he’ll get in touch with the city to recommend Schurr be suspended without pay, pending termination, CNN reported. Schurr turned himself in after a warrant for his arrest was issued on Thursday. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, welcomed the charge against the White police officer on Thursday. He, however, said that wouldn’t bring his son back. “My heart was really broken during the past two months because a lot of things were said,” he told reporters through an interpreter. “And I was thinking maybe there’s no justice in America.”
Peter Lyoya also said the released videos of his son’s killing were crucial in ensuring transparency in the case.
“Patrick is not coming back. We are not going to see him again,” he said. “And to show this point that the police officer will be charged, and is charged, that brings a little bit of consolation to our family because we see everybody that supports us, everybody who stands by us, they did a good job to get this kind of justice.”
In a statement, the attorney for the deceased Black man’s family, Ben Crump, said the charges brought against Schurr were “a step in the right direction.”
“We are encouraged by attorney Christopher Becker’s decision to charge Christopher Schurr for the brutal killing of Patrick Lyoya, which we all witnessed when the video footage was released to the public,” said Crump.
“Officer Schurr must be held accountable for his decision to pursue an unarmed Patrick, ultimately shooting him in the back of the head and killing him — for nothing more than a traffic stop,” he added.