GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A trial date has been set in the murder case against former Grand Rapids Police officer Christopher Schurr.
During a status conference Wednesday, a judge selected March 13 as the start date for the trial. This comes after an October preliminary hearing that ordered Schurr to stand trial for the killing of Patrick Lyoya.
Schurr did not appear in court Wednesday, but his attorneys made it clear they will file a motion to quash the bind over. That means they’ll ask Circuit Court Judge Christina Elmore to overrule the district court’s finding that there’s enough evidence a crime was committed to send the case to trial.
“The critical issue is when can an officer use deadly force to make a lawful arrest. … The prosecutor says that any time someone is killed that they can charge them with murder and let the jury decide whether or not deadly force was necessary. We disagree. We don’t think that’s what the law says,” Schurr’s defense attorney Matthew Borgula said.
The prosecution said that the quash motion is not out of the ordinary in these cases.
“The motion to quash is pretty basic … we see those on a fairly regular basis. So there’s nothing unusual about that,” Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said. “Their position is there are some unique things in law, but obviously we disagree. So that’s what the motion’s for.”
Becker said prior court decisions have made the law clear and Schurr’s actions were not “objectively reasonable” under the circumstances.
The defense said it could find no prior Michigan case in which a police officer was charged with murder while trying to make an arrest.
Outside the courtroom Wednesday, defense attorney Borgula told reporters the “objectively reasonable” standard applies to cases in civil court, not criminal. He argued state legislators have not spelled out what constitutes murder for a police officer in Schurr’s situation.
Schurr said he stopped Lyoya near Nelson Avenue and Griggs Street SE on April 4 because Lyoya’s license plate did not match his vehicle. Police bodycam video shows Lyoya tried to get away to evade arrest, ultimately grabbing Schurr’s taser. The former GRPD officer was on top of Lyoya, but still struggling to gain control of him, when Schurr pulled out his firearm and shot Lyoya in the back of the head.
Schurr was later charged with second-degree murder and fired from GRPD in June.
Earlier this month, the family of Lyoya also filed a civil lawsuit against Schurr and the city of Grand Rapids.
Whatever the judge decides on the motion to throw the case out, either side may file for leave to appeal the decision to the appeals court, which could delay that March 13 trial date.
— News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.