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Family, civil rights attorney speak on Grand Rapids police shooting death of Patrick Lyoya

'I view it as a tragedy,' said GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom.
Patrick Lyoya.png
Posted at 10:18 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 22:18:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The family of Patrick Lyoya, the man who was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer, will hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

They were joined by Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump.

Police along with other city leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to release multiple videos related to the killing of Patrick Lyoya by an officer.

*CONTENT WARNING: Video that might be played during the news conference could contain graphic violence and language*
WATCH THE FULL PRESS CONFERENCE HERE

The footage released was from the officer's body camera, vehicle dash camera, a witness cell phone, and a neighbor surveillance video.

Lyoya died Monday, April 4, following a traffic stop around 8 a.m. near the intersection of Griggs and Nelson on the city's southeast side. Officials say the stop was for an improper license plate on the car. Lloya was the driver of the vehicle. A passenger was also in the vehicle at the time.

Nelson Ave and Griggs St Officer Involved Shooting.png

Video footage shows that Lyoya exited the vehicle after the stop, and then shows the officer walk up to Lyoya and tell him to stay in the car. The two appear to talk for a few minutes before Lyoya starts to walk away. The video shows the officer grabbing him and Lyoya trying to run. The officer tackles Lyoya and a struggle ensues.

GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom says the officer deployed the taser twice during the struggle, striking the ground both times, before Lyoya was shot in the back of the head and killed.

Michigan State Police are handling the investigation, which is standard practice in cases like this.

Chief Winstrom says he will wait to make conclusions until the entire investigation is complete.

He said of the incident, "I view it as a tragedy."

Video released in deadly Grand Rapids police shooting

GRPD says the officer has been with the department since 2015 and was working alone at the time of the shooting. The department has not released the officer's name.

26-year-old Patrick Lyoya leaves behind two children, a two-year-old and a three-month-old.

His family, who live in Lansing, are part of a tight knit West Michigan Congolese community of 700.

"I would like to see him handicap than dead. They could shoot him in the leg. They can shoot him in the back, maybe they could give a chance to call his father, but shoot him on the back of the head? That is inexcusable. You cannot explain that.' To him, it is an execution style. That is it," Patrick Lyoya's father said through an interpreter.

"He wants justice. He wants the officer to be arrested. His wants the officer to be persecuted. He wants the officer to be fired. He wants justice for his son," said Israel Siku, the family's interpreter.

The family has retained nationally-known attorney Ben Crump who spoke to a crowd in Grand Rapids on Sunday.

Crump is expected to hold a news conference with Lyoya's family on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

He said in a statement, "Patrick Lyoya immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to pursue the American Dream and provide a better and safer life for himself and his family. Instead, what found him was a fatal bullet to the back of the head, delivered by an officer of the Grand Rapids Police Department. The video clearly shows that this was an unnecessary, excessive, and fatal use of force against an unarmed Black man who was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life. It should be noted that Patrick never used violence against this officer even though the officer used violence against him in several instances for what was a misdemeanor traffic stop. We demand that the officer who killed Patrick not only be terminated for his use of excessive force, but be arrested and prosecuted for the violent killing of Patrick Lyoya."

Attorney Ben Crump in Grand Rapids

There have already been a number of demonstrations protesting the shooting of Lyoya. All have remained peaceful. There are more demonstrations planned this week.

Patrick Lyoya Family
Patrick Lyoya’s family and community members attend a march in Grand Rapids on April 9.

On Wednesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II released the following statements:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

“The Lieutenant Governor and I spoke with Patrick’s family and our hearts are with them and the Grand Rapids community who are dealing with unimaginable pain and loss. Patrick was 26. He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him. Patrick was a son, a dad of two young daughters, and an older brother to his five siblings.

The Michigan State Police will conduct a transparent, independent investigation of the shooting. Then, prosecutors must consider all the evidence, follow the law, and take appropriate action on charges. Justice is foundational to safety, and without justice, we are all less safe.

Patrick’s father asked me to convey his hope that any demonstrations in his son’s honor remain peaceful, and as Governor I share this view. We must come together and build a future where Black Michiganders are afforded equal rights, dignity, and safety in our communities. I will never stop fighting to make Michigan a more equitable and just state.”

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II:

“Governor Whitmer and I spoke to Patrick Lyoya’s family. They are feeling the deep pain that too many have felt, a terrible loss in a moment that feels all too sickeningly familiar. His father Peter described his son as a generous and caring man whom he wants to be remembered peacefully. Patrick was a loving father, a loyal friend, and a proud member of the Grand Rapids community who enjoyed sharing fellowship and culture with those around him.

I am heartbroken by what we all have witnessed as a father, public servant, and a Black man. People are frustrated and hurting—searching for answers. Black people in Grand Rapids, in Michigan, and across the country are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from generations of struggle. Yet we press on. When we demonstrate and make our voices heard, we must do so in a way that lifts our call for justice beyond the deepening the pain of this community. We must never cease our efforts to reverse inequities, create systemic change, and guarantee justice for communities of color. We must recommit ourselves, through our words and deeds, to working together to build a more perfect union and a Michigan with equality and justice for all, where every interaction within our community, especially those with law enforcement, end with everyone able to return home to their families without harm.

It is critical now to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to achieve justice, deliver accountability, and understand what happened, for Patrick Lyoya’s family as expeditiously as possible.”

How we got here:
Man shot, killed by officer during traffic stop in Grand Rapids
Man identified in Grand Rapids officer-involved shooting
Family demands answers, remembers life of man killed in GR officer-involved shooting
GRPD Chief on delaying release of video: this is not a cover-up
Kent County prosecutor: GRPD can share video of officer-involved shooting without his approval
‘I’m bleeding. I’m hurt:’ Father wants video of deadly officer-involved shooting released
Hundreds march against killing of Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids police officer
Vigil for Patrick Lyoya, man who died after being shot by GR police officer
National and local leaders hold forum after Patrick Lyoya shot and killed by GR police officer
Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump calling for police video of Lyoya’s death to be released
Barricade goes up around Grand Rapids Police Headquarters
Group marches to Grand Rapids City Commission meeting
People demand answers at GR City Commission meeting following Lyoya death