Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old African-American man, was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop on April 4. The incident took place outside a house in Grand Rapids, a city of about 200,000 residents nearly 240km northwest of Detroit, Michigan.
On Wednesday, the Grand Rapids Police Department shared four videos collected from multiple sources, including bodycam footage documenting the shooting.
Following the release of the video, Lyoya's family attorney Ben Crump said that the footage served as the evidence of “unnecessary and fatal” force used on the victim:
“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.”
Crump also said that Lyoya never used violence against authorities even though the police officer was allegedly violent several times. He also demanded the termination, arrest, and prosecution of the officer for “the violent killing of Patrick Lyoya.”
A look into the Patrick Lyoya shooting video
On April 4, 2022, Patrick Lyoya faced a traffic stop for driving with a license plate that was not registered with his vehicle. The 26-year-old reportedly got out of his car and attempted to run away from the police officer.
Reports suggest that the man was tackled to the ground after he tried to grab a taser from the officer. Lyoya reportedly had a physical altercation with the authorities before he was allegedly shot in the head.
The entire shooting incident was captured on camera by Lyoya’s co-passenger and was also documented in police bodycam footage, an in-car camera and a home surveillance system. The footage was later released by the Grand Rapids Police Department.
One of the videos showed Lyoya running from authorities after a traffic stop before getting embroiled in a scuffle with an officer. The duo are seen struggling in front of several houses before Lyoya is forced to the ground.
An officer can also be heard saying, “Drop the Taser!” while kneeling on Lyoya’s back to restrain him. Shortly after, the officer can be seen shooting the man in the back of the head and allegedly killing him on the spot.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstorm said the videos were released to achieve “transparency” and also noted that the duo struggled for 9 seconds with the taser gun:
“I view it as a tragedy. It was a progression of sadness for me. From my view of the video, Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact. And Mr Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that’s the only information that I have.”
The footage showing Lyoya’s final moments sparked major criticism and led to widespread protests across the city. NAACP President Derrick Johnson asked the authorities to hold the officer “accountable” for his actions and said that “an unregistered license plate should not be a death sentence.”
The NAACP also issued an official statement about the incident and condemned the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya:
“Another Black man has died at the hands of police, and the officer in this video has got to be held accountable. President Biden, sign the police reform executive order now. While we fully understand an executive order is not a substitute for meaningful legislation, we must do everything in our power to protect our community.”
A mass protest took place for more than four hours following the release of Lyoya’s footage. Protestors came together at Rosa Parks Circle and marched down to the Monroe Center to the police department headquarters.
The first day of the protest reportedly ended around 9:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park. For the second night, protestors could be heard chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace” across the streets of Grand Rapids.
Meanwhile, Lyoya’s family called for peaceful protests and told Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to “conduct a transparent, independent investigation of the shooting”. Governor Whitmer said:
“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'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.”
Amid the ongoing investigation, the officer who shot Patrick Lyoya has been placed on administrative leave. The officer is reportedly a seven-year veteran of the force, who has been associated with the department since 2015.