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Autopsy: Patrick Lyoya killed by cop’s shot to the head

Patrick Lyoya, as captured by the officer's body camera, shortly after being pulled over.
Grand Rapids Police Department
Patrick Lyoya, as captured by the officer's body camera, shortly after being pulled over.

Patrick Lyoya, a Black man who was killed by a Michigan police officer, died from a gunshot to the back of his head, according to the official autopsy, which matched the conclusion of an expert hired by Lyoya’s family.

The report from the Kent County medical examiner also said that Lyoya’s blood-alcohol level was 0.29, more than three times over the legal limit for driving, when his car was stopped in Grand Rapids on April 4, the Detroit Free Press reportedFriday.

Lyoya, 26, a refugee from Congo, was killed during a physical struggle with Officer Christopher Schurr shortly after 8 a.m.

Schurr, who is white, told Lyoya that he had stopped him because the license plate didn’t match the vehicle, according to video.

Lyoya began to run after the officer asked for a driver’s license. Schurr quickly caught him, but the pair continued to struggle across a front lawn in a residential neighborhood while Lyoya’s passenger recorded the scene on a phone.

Lyoya was on the ground when Schurr shot him. He had demanded that Lyoya take his hand off the officer’s Taser, according to video.

Dr. Werner Spitz performed a separate autopsy at the request of the family and announced the findings on April 19. He, too, said a shot to the head killed Lyoya. He believes the gun was pressed against the head.

“It’s highly significant that Dr. Steve Cohle found the identical findings of Dr. Spitz,” said Lyoya family attorney Ven Johnson, referring to the county medical examiner.

He said Lyoya’s blood-alcohol level was irrelevant.

“Drinking and driving isn’t punishable by execution,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “We can all debate, assuming the results are correct, what effect it had on my client’s behavior. But it had nothing to do with the cause and manner of his death.”

State police investigating the shooting submitted a report last week to the Kent County prosecutor, who will decide if Schurr will face charges. Chris Becker said he still wanted reports about the officer’s Taser and body-worn camera.

Lyoya’s parents want the officer fired and charged. Schurr, who was placed on leave, hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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