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The Grand Rapids lawyers defending the killer cop, Christopher Schurr, already want to control the narrative about the murder of Patrick Lyoya

June 12, 2022

Since, last Friday, we now know which two lawyers will be defending GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr, now that he has been charged with Second-degree murder by the Kent County Prosecutor.

The two lawyer, which work for two different law firms are Mark Dodge and Matthew Borgula. Dodge workers at his father’s law firm, Dodge & Dodge, P.C. and Borgula works for Springstead, Bartish, Borgula & Lynch PLLC. Both law firms are located in downtown Grand Rapids, at 200 Ottawa Ave NW, Suite 401 and 60 Monroe Center St NW #500.

Both lawyer are partners in their respective law firms and both law firms highlight some of the same areas of legal expertise, such as:

  • Drug Offenses
  • Sex Crimes
  • White Collar Crime
  • Violent Crime
  • DUI

On the home page of Springstead, Bartish, Borgula & Lynch PLLC, they brag about the fact that they have a Former US Attorney, Four Former Federal Prosecutors, Two former FBI Agents and Two Former Army JAGs. For many people, especially white people – both conservative and liberal – such credentials may seem impressive. However, throughout US history, lawyers who have experience at the federal level, in the US Military or with the FBI, have primarily defending the interests of systems of power and oppression. 

Take the FBI for instance. People are aware that within the past year, the FBI have arrested and charged people in Michigan for threats against Governor Whitmer, and just a few days ago, GOP Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested by the FBI for his involvement with the January 6th insurrection. However, if we take a long look at the history of the FBI, we see that they have primarily undermined and targeted BIPOC groups and other political dissidents, as has been well documented by Jim Vander Wall and Ward Churchill in their two books, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, and The Cointelpro Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States. Another excellent resource on the repressive history of the FBI is the documentary, COINTELPRO 101. 

Statement from the attorneys representing the GRPD cop who shot Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head

On Friday, Dodge and Borgula, released the following statement:

We were disappointed to learn that Officer Schurr has been charged with murder by the Kent County Prosecutor. Officer Schurr is a decorated member of law enforcement who has dedicated his career to helping others and protecting the citizens of Grand Rapids. The evidence in this case will show that the death of Patrick Lyoya was not murder but an unfortunate tragedy, resulting from a highly volatile situation. Mr. Lyoya continually refused to obey lawful commands and ultimately disarmed a police officer. Mr. Lyoya gained full control of a police officer’s weapon while resisting arrest, placing Officer Schurr in fear of great bodily harm or death. We are confident that after a jury hears all of the evidence, Officer Schurr will be exonerated.

This narrative about Christopher Schurr was very strategic on the part of his lawyers. First, they want to present Schurr in a positive light, since he apparently, “has dedicated his career to helping others and protecting the citizens of Grand Rapids.” Neither of these claims are substantiated by the lawyers, but they will no doubt be using this narrative as a central part of their case when it goes to trial. This narrative about Schurr is also a narrative that has been perpetuated by the commercial news media, like a recent MLive article from late May that GRIID deconstructs.

The second primary narrative of the statement from Schurr’s lawyer was to communicate that the notion that Patrick Lyoya was at fault and that his death could have been prevented if he had just obeyed Officer Schurr. This narrative, which is embraced by the GRPD union, by the GRPD, by other pro-police groups and by much of white society, is an old trope, where the victim of a horrendous and brutal crime is at fault. 

Christopher Schurr’s lawyers will lean heavily on this second narrative, first by attacking the character of Patrick Lyoya, and secondly, by making the claim that Officer Schurr had a right to defend himself, as is evidenced in their statement, which says, “Mr. Lyoya continually refused to obey lawful commands and ultimately disarmed a police officer. Mr. Lyoya gained full control of a police officer’s weapon while resisting arrest, placing Officer Schurr in fear of great bodily harm or death.” 

These two dominant narratives will be used over and over again by Schurr’s lawyer, but they will also be continually used by pro-police groups, the commercial news media and within white society – in the break rooms, the chat rooms, at the dinner table and during coffee hour at church. For those of us who are demanding Justice4Patrick, we need to not only reject such narratives, we need to develop our own narratives to counter these White Supremacist, Copaganda narratives.

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