Michigan judge denies ex-officer's bid to drop murder charge

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FILE - Peter Lyoya, father of Patrick Lyoya, wipes his eyes after looking at video of his son's shooting during a news conference, Dec. 7, 2022, in Detroit. On Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, attorneys for Christopher Schurr, the former police officer charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya, a Black motorist, in western Michigan, asked a judge to dismiss the case. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Michigan judge on Friday refused to dismiss a second-degree murder charge against a former Grand Rapids police officer who was fired after shooting a Black motorist in the back of the head during a struggle over a Taser.

Christopher Schurr is scheduled for trial March 13 in the shooting death of Patrick Lyoya last April. Circuit Judge Christina Elmore rejected a defense motion to throw out the case. Defense attorney Matthew Borgula said after the hearing that his team would appeal.

Schurr’s lawyers argued he acted in self-defense and that Michigan law allows police officers to use deadly force to stop someone from fleeing and to make an arrest. Video recordings showed Schurr was straddling Lyoya's body as the Congolese refugee lay face down beneath him.

Prosecutors said the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding probable cause to proceed to trial. A judge at a preliminary hearing found sufficient evidence that a jury could conclude Schurr did not reasonably believe his life was immediately at risk. Elmore agreed.

Schurr was fired last June after spending months on paid leave. He spent one night in jail, then posted bond.

Attorneys for Lyoya’s family have filed a separate civil lawsuit against Schurr and the city of Grand Rapids.