During a press conference on Wednesday (December 9), attorneys Ben Crump and Ven Johns announced the civil lawsuit on behalf of the Lyoya family against now-former officer Christopher Schurr and the city of Grand Rapids.
The attorneys showed footage at the press conference from the April shooting, which they say shows Schurr used "unnecessary illegal excessive force." The lawsuit also alleges that the city's policies, practices, and training "led to Schurr utilizing excessive force."
On April 4, 2022, Schurr attempted to arrest Lyoya, a father of two and refugee from the Republic of the Congo, for having an unregistered license plate. After the then-officer asked for his license, Lyoya fled on foot.
Schurr chased after Lyoya, tackled him on the lawn of a nearby residence, kneeled on him, and drew his Taser. Lyoya then put his hands on the officer's gun, which prompted Schurr to draw his service weapon and shoot him in the back of the head.
The officer, a seven-year veteran of the Grand Rapids Police Department who was terminated from the force in June, is facing criminal charges of second-degree murder and will stand trial — He has pleaded not guilty.
Lyoya's attorneys alleged Wednesday that Lyoya's death wasn't an isolated incident, saying the department has displayed a pattern of excessive force. From June 2015 to May 2020, 79 complaints of excessive use of force were lodged against Grand Rapids police officers, but only two officers faced consequences, Johnson said.
Johnson noted that the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is also investigating complaints of racial profiling and discrimination from Grand Rapids police officers.
Peter Lyoya, the victim's father, said he watched the footage of the fatal incident for the first time at the press conference.
"The pain is so deep," he said Wednesday in his native language Swahili. "The bitterness is so deep to the point that I can even lose my life every time when I think about my son leaving us."
"I don't want else to happen to other parent because if Patrick gets his justice today, it will stop a lot of things to happen to a lot of young men out there, Black or white, their parents don't go through what I'm going through," he said.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.