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Video shows Michigan cop fatally shooting black man Patrick Lyoya

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Black man face-down on the ground was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Michigan police officer, the violent climax of a traffic stop, foot chase and fight over a stun gun, according to videos of the April 4 incident released Wednesday.

Patrick Lyoya, 26, was killed outside a house in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The white officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to “let go” of his Taser, at one point demanding: “Drop the Taser!”

Citing a need for transparency, the city’s new police chief, Eric Winstrom, released four videos, including critical footage of the shooting recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car on that rainy morning.

“I view it as a tragedy. … It was a progression of sadness for me,” said Winstrom, a former high-ranking Chicago police commander who became Grand Rapids chief in March. The city of about 200,000 people is about 150 miles northwest of Detroit.

Video shows Lyoya running from the officer who stopped him for driving with a license plate that didn’t belong to the vehicle. They struggled in front of several homes while Lyoya’s passenger got out and watched.

Winstrom said the fight over the Taser lasted about 90 seconds. In the final moments, the officer was on top of Lyoya, kneeling on his back at times to subdue him.

Activists demand justice for Patrick Lyoya during a protest near Grand Rapids City Hall in Michigan on April 12, 2022.
Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP

“From my view of the video, Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact,” Winstrom told reporters. “And Mr. Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that’s the only information that I have.”

State police are investigating the shooting. Kent County’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Stephen Cohle, said he completed the autopsy but toxicology tests haven’t been finished.

The traffic stop was tense from the start. Video shows Lyoya, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, getting out of the car before the officer approached. He ordered Lyoya to get back in the vehicle but the man declined.

Footage shows a Grand Rapids police officer allegedly holding down Patrick Lyoya after chasing him on April 4, 2022.
Footage shows a Grand Rapids police officer allegedly holding down Patrick Lyoya after chasing him on April 4, 2022.
Grand Rapids Police Department

The officer asked him if he spoke English and demanded his driver’s license. The foot chase began soon after, video shows.

Winstrom didn’t identify the officer, a seven-year veteran who is on paid leave during the investigation.

“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,” the chief said. “I was hoping to never have to utilize that experience here.”

Peter Lyoya, right, father of Patrick Lyoya, closes his eyes as a tear runs down his face during the Justice for Patrick Lyoya march in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Grand Rapids police chief Eric Winstrom recently met with Patrick Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya (right).
Daniel Shular/The Grand Rapids Press via AP

Video was collected from Lyoya’s passenger, the officer’s body-worn camera, the officer’s patrol car and a doorbell camera. Prosecutor Chris Becker, who will decide whether any charges are warranted, objected to the release but said Winstrom could act on his own.

Becker said the public shouldn’t expect a quick decision.

“While the videos released today are an important piece of evidence, they are not all of the evidence,” he said.

Patrick Lyoya, 26, was killed outside a house in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The white officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to “let go” of his Taser, at one point demanding: “Drop the Taser!”
Patrick Lyoya was 26 years old.
GoFundMe

City Manager Mark Washington warned that the videos would lead to “expressions of shock, of anger and of pain.” Some downtown businesses boarded up their storefronts, and concrete barricades surrounded police headquarters.

Lyoya had two young daughters and five siblings, said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke to his family.

“He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him,” Whitmer, a Democrat, said.

More than 100 people marched to Grand Rapids City Hall before a City Commission meeting Tuesday night, chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.”

A TV display shows video evidence of a Grand Rapids police officer struggling with and shooting Patrick Lyoya at Grand Rapids City Hall on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
Footage shows a Grand Rapids police officer confronting Patrick Lyoya before he was shot and killed.
Grand Rapids Police Department

Winstrom last week said he met Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, and that they both cried.

“I get it as a father. … It’s just heart-wrenching,” the chief told WOOD-TV.

As in many U.S. cities, Grand Rapids police have been occasionally criticized over the use of force, particularly against Black people, who make up 18% of the population.

In November, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit over the practice of photographing and fingerprinting people who were never charged with a crime. Grand Rapids said the policy changed in 2015.

A downtown street has been designated Breonna Taylor Way, named for the Black woman and Grand Rapids native who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, during a botched drug raid in 2020.

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