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White Michigan officer pleads not guilty to African refugee's murder

White Michigan officer pleads not guilty to African refugee's murder

reuters.com · 06/10/2022 15:02
White Michigan officer pleads not guilty to African refugee's murder

- A white U.S. police officer pleaded not guilty on Friday to a charge of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of an African refugee during an altercation after a traffic stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

During an arraignment hearing, Grand Rapids District Court Judge Nicholas Ayoub set a $100,000 cash bond for Christopher Schurr, 31, who was charged in the April 4 killing of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Schurr appeared via video link from the county jail.

Activists have condemned the shooting as an example of unjustified deadly force by police against young Black men. nL2N2WC22X

A forensic pathologist who performed an independent autopsy on Lyoya concluded the officer had held his gun to the back of Lyoya's head and fired once, evidence that the family's attorney, Ben Crump, said bolstered their view that Lyoya was the victim of "an execution."

A charge of second-degree murder, defined as an intentional, unjustified killing, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole in Michigan, the chief prosecuting attorney for Kent County, Christopher Becker said on Thursday, when he announced the charge against Schurr.

Videos of the incident, publicly released in April, show Lyoya stepping out of the car on a rainy street, seemingly confused and asking "What did I do?" as the policeman repeatedly asks for a driver's license and orders him to get back inside the vehicle.

Lyoya appeared to be complying, but then closed the driver's side door and attempted to walk away, resisting the officer's attempts to handcuff him.

Following a short chase on foot, the two men grappled on a lawn, at one point appearing to struggle over the officer's stun gun, before Lyoya was shot.

The incident began after the officer stopped Lyoya over suspicions involving his license plate.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien)