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Once again the Grand Rapids commercial news media presents a narrative that favors the ex-GRPD cop who killed Patrick Lyoya

June 22, 2022

Yesterday, the lawyers who are representing the cop who killed Patrick Lyoya, were in court for a preliminary hearing, as a result of the Kent County Prosecutor’s decision two weeks ago to charge Christopher Schurr with second-degree murder.

However, the news reporting on the court hearing grossly framed the cop who killed Patrick Lyoya in a positive light to a degree that will make it difficult for any juror to find the former-GRPD cop guilty of murder.

Faulting the victim

The MLive article from yesterday, states: 

Lyoya was face down, trying to get up, when the officer shot him in the back of his head. They had fought for control of the officer’s Taser.

This is a distortion of the events that took place. Most reasonable people, upon viewing the videos, would not describe what happened in such a way. Later in the MLive article it repeats the claim that, “The two fought for control of the officer’s Taser.” This claim is followed yet another negative framing, where it states: 

Tests showed that Lyoya had a blood-alcohol level of 0.29 percent, over three times the level a motorist is presumed intoxicated.

The MLive article then continues to present a narrative about the victim, a narrative which suggests Patrick was at fault. 

WZZM 13 also presented a narrative that made it sound like Schurr was just protecting himself, with this sentence:

Lyoya got out of his vehicle to speak with Schurr. After a brief physical struggle, Lyoya was shot in the back of the head and killed.

WZZM 13 also posted an interview with Schurr’s lawyer. There were two things instructive about this interview. First, a reporter (even though we can’t see the person who made the statement) made a statement, saying that the media has been presenting a one-sided view so far. This is absolutely not true, as we have not in numerous deconstructions of the local news, such as a WOODTV8 story from May 2nd, a May 17 story, and an MLive article that presents Schurr in a positive light.

A second point from the channel 13 interview with the lawyer representing Schurr is that he went out of his way to say that he hopes this doesn’t turn into a side show outside the court. This was a backhanded way of marginalizing the Justice4Patrick movement. The lawyer goes on to say the courts will likely not tolerate any sort of “interruptions” or “outbursts” from people.

Providing a platform for the killer cop’s family

However, maybe the most ridiculous story from the local news was from WOODTV8. The piece that channel 8 broadcast last night begins with the two newsreaders saying that this is the first time the public gets to hear from the family of Christopher Schurr. In fact, most of the 2 minute and 12 second story is mostly about Schurr’s family, featuring commentary from his grandfather, with softball questions from the reporter, in an attempt to humanize the ex-cop who shot Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head, while he was face down on the ground. The channel 8 reporter even asked Schurr’s grandfather about how it was to spent father’s day with his son and grandson. Instead of focusing on the court hearing, WOODTV8 felt that it was more important to communicate the feelings of a family member of the ex-cop who murdered Patrick Lyoya.

WXMI 17 did the best job of reporting on the hearing, with minimal commentary, no strongly biased narrative, plus they post video of the entire court hearing, thus allowing people to make up their own minds about what happened in the courtroom.

Overall, the local news coverage from yesterday about the court hearing for the ex-GRPD cop who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya did actual harm to the memory of Patrick Lyoya. This type of news coverage could also play a significant role in determining the outcome of the trial.

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