A black man was shot in the back of the head by a police officer in Michigan at the end of a traffic stop, a brief foot chase and struggle over a stun gun, according to videos of the April 4 incident released Wednesday.
The man was killed when officers fired shots at him from behind after he refused orders to get on the ground. The shooting, caught on body camera video, has prompted outrage over how police treated the unarmed man and questions about whether the shooting was justified.
Patrick Lyoyo, age 26, was killed outside a house in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lyoya was repeatedly ordered by the officer to “let go” of the Taser. He didn’t. And at one point he demanded: “Drop the Taser!”
The city’s new police chief, Eric Winstrom, released four videos including critical footage of the shooting recorded by a passenger in the car on the 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 (240 kilometres) northwest of Detroit.
In the video, Lyoya drives away from the officer who had stopped him for driving with an out-of-state license plate. They had struggled in front of several homes while his passenger watched.
According to Winstrom, the fight over the stun gun lasted about 90 seconds. In the final moments, the officer was kneeling on the back Lyoya, trying to subdue the man.
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.
This is a tragedy. The police are now investigating the shooting. The County Medical Examiner has been notified. Stephen Cohle, said he completed the autopsy but toxicology tests haven’t been finished yet.
After the officer got out of his car, the situation escalated quickly. The video shows Lyoya getting out of the car, before the officer even approached. He ordered Lyoya to get back in the vehicle but the man declined.
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 utilise that experience here.
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.
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.
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.
Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, speaking on behalf of Lyoya’s family, on Wednesday called for the officer in the shooting to be fired and prosecuted.
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 said in a release.
Crump and Lyoya’s family are expected to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched to Grand Rapids city hall before a city commission meeting Tuesday night to protest racial injustice in the US, with some chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.
We DEMAND that the officer who killed Patrick not only be terminated for his excessive and fatal force, but be arrested and prosecuted for his violent, reckless, and unjustified killing of this Black man during a misdemeanor traffic stop!
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 13, 2022
Protesters gathered outside the Grand Rapids Police Department Wednesday to voice their concerns after police released the videos of the the incident.
The group demanded that officers make the name of the officer who shot her public.
Some businesses cut their hours short Wednesday, closing early. Some boarded up windows. But the demonstration remained non violent with protesters demanding justice for Lyoya and other Black lives lost in shootings involving police.
I get it as a father. . It’s just heart wrenching, the chief told WOOD TV.
As in many American cities, Grand Rapids police have been occasionally criticised 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.