Grand Rapids police officers killed Patrick Lyoya (26-year-old Black) in a shooting incident.
Lyoya’s death has drawn widespread attention after the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) released body-camera footage, dash-camera footage, cellphone video, and home-surveillance video of the incident on Wednesday.
State police are investigating the incident and have not released the name of the officer responsible. Officer has been put on administrative leave.
Here’s what to know.
Patrick Lyoya: Who were you?
According to Benjamin Crump (civil-rights lawyer) who represented the family and is well-known for his involvement with high-profile cases of Black Americans being killed, Lyoya came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lyoya was a Grand Rapids resident for five years.
“His family came to our country in pursuit of the American dream, but instead are now living a traumatic American NIGHTMARE as they have to bury their loved one!” Crump said in a tweet posted Wednesday.
Continue reading: Inside Ben Crump’s Quest to Raise the Value of Black Life in America
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stated that Lyoya was the mother of five children and had two daughters.
“He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him,” Whitmer said at a Wednesday press conference.
What was the situation at the traffic control?
Lyoya is seen being pulled over by officers after he allegedly had an unregistered car license plate. A friend of Lyoya’s was also in the vehicle.
Lyoya gets out his car and follows the officer. The officer is heard yelling for Lyoya to “stay in the car.” The officer repeatedly asks Lyoya if he has a driver’s license and tells him that the plate does not belong on the car.
Continue reading: A Police Officer Killed Their Mother, and Her Sons Want to Know Why He Hasn’t Faced Trial
The video records show that Lyoya opened the car’s front door and spoke with the passenger briefly before getting into an argument with the officer. Lyoya runs away from the officer as he tries to grab Lyoya. He is pushed against the ground by an officer who tackles him. The officer yells “get your hands behind your back” several times.
The officer’s body camera was not on during the shooting. The shooting was captured by a friend who was in the car.
Eric Winstrom, Grand Rapids Police Chief, speaks during a Grand Rapids press conference on April 13, 2022.
Bill Pugliano—Getty Images
They fought for approximately 90 seconds. At one point, the officer seemingly attempts to tase Lyoya but, according to Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom, the Taser “did not make contact.”
According to cellphone footage, Lyoya was pinned to the floor by an officer. He then pulled out his pistol and shot Lyoya in her head.
Grand Rapids police officers and protests throughout Michigan
For years, the relationship between the GRPD police and Grand Rapids’ minority community has been tense. Data from the city shows that black citizens responded to a 2020 poll showing they are less confident in police officers than Hispanic or white residents. Grand Rapids’ Black population is only 18%.
“Me being from Chicago for the last 20 years, I’ve handled many police shootings myself, so I do have a lot of experience in this,” Winstrom said at the Wednesday press conference; he joined the department in March. “I was hoping to never have to utilize that experience here.”
Protesters demonstrated against Patrick Lyoya’s April 4 police shooting, which took place on April 13th, 2022, in Grand Rapids. Mich.
Bill Pugliano—Getty Images
Protesters gathered in front of the GRPD headquarters demanding the public release the identity of the officer after the videos had been released. Although some businesses in the area closed early to prevent vandalism, they did not take violent action.
“Right now…we are condemning Russian soldiers for shooting civilians in Ukraine in the back of the head. Why aren’t we condemning police officers here in the United States of America shooting unarmed Black civilians in the back of the head? It’s a simple question,” Crump said during a Thursday press conference. “If it’s wrong to shoot civilians in the back of the head in the Ukraine, it is wrong for police officers to shoot civilians in the back of the head here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”
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