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Witness Testifies That Michigan Officer Who Shot Patrick Lyoya Execution Style Had the Upper Hand In the Tussle: ‘He Always Had the Lead’

A man who witnessed the police shooting of Patrick Lyoya said the Congolese refugee seemed confused during his interaction with the officer who killed him.

Wayne Butler told a Grand Rapids, Michigan, judge that he was getting out of the shower when he saw the police lights near his house in April. The 26-year-old Congo native was shot in the head by now-former Grand Rapids officer Christopher Schurr in Butler’s driveway.

Grand Rapids Officer Christopher Schurr (left) was arraigned on June 10, 2022, for shooting Patrick Lyoya (right) execution-style. (Photo: Calhoun County Jail/Lyoya Family)

Butler did not see the fatal shot because he had stepped away to get his cellphone to record the altercation, which he said left him “traumatized.”

“I’m like there’s gotta be something going on where he’s having a discussion with a police officer,” Butler said in video coverage of the hearing. “Don’t you know he’s got a gun? He’s got a taser he could kill you by clearly, he didn’t know what the rules in America are about traffic stuff.”

Butler was one of four witnesses who testified Thursday before the judge, who must decide if the case against Schurr should go to trial. The former officer said he acted in self-defense. Viral cellphone video footage of the shooting showed Schurr shooting Lyoya in the head execution-style.

Schurr said he pulled over the car Lyoya was driving because the license did not match the vehicle’s registration. Body-worn camera footage shows Schurr trying to grab the driver as he walked to his vehicle’s passenger side after being asked for his license and registration. He then took off towards Butler’s home, where he was tackled and wrestled with Schurr.

Butler said Lyoya looked “like he was disoriented playing tag on two front lawns.”

Defense attorneys argued on Thursday that the two men were fighting over the officer’s stun gun, which one expert witness said Lyoya grabbed several times.

The forensic video analyst, Robert McFarlane, said Lyoya did not comply with the officer’s 20 commands. Bryan Chiles, an engineer for Taser developer Axon, said Schurr discharged the device, but it did not hit anyone. He pointed out, however, that it still could have been used because it was in “drive stun” mode.

Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Nicholas Calati told the judge the stun gun was near Lyoya’s hands when officers arrived and found the body.

Still, Butler said Schurr appeared to have “control over Patrick the whole time.”

“And when I say control, I mean physical control like it was a wrestling match,” Butler said. “The officer is always winning, 60-40. He always had the lead; it wasn’t by much. You could tell he was getting worn out, but he always had the upper hand.”

Aime Tuyishme was a passenger in the car, and he recorded the cellphone video of the shooting. He believes Lyoya stopped because he heard a noise coming from the vehicle, not because of Schurr.

“I remember like Patrick saying that – like you say OK. OK. That’s what I just remember. OK. OK,” Tuyishme said.

Atlanta Black Star reached out to Lyoya’s brother for comment but did not immediately get a response. The man’s parents were at the hearing Thursday and reportedly cried when prosecutors played a video of the shooting.

Law enforcement witnesses for the defense also argued that there were arrest warrants out for Lyoya for drunk driving and domestic assault when he was killed. Defense attorney Matt Borgula said fake ID cards were found in the car.

“Certainly, the motive of why he was fleeing comes into play,” Borgula told the judge.

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