DETROIT — Grand Rapids police on Wednesday released video footage showing the fatal shooting of a Black man who was facedown on the ground and shot in the back of the head by an officer.
The video, a collection of dashcam footage, body cam footage, a home security camera, and a cell phone video, depicts an unnamed police officer on April 4 pulling over Patrick Lyoya and a passenger for a “license plate that doesn’t match the car.”
Lyoya gets out of the car, the officer gets out and tells him to get back in the car. The officer asks for his driver’s license and then proceeds to ask if Lyoya speaks English.
Lyoya appears to run around the car, and the officer chases and tackles him to the ground on the front lawn of a house.
They struggle, and the officer can be heard telling Lyoya to “stop” and to “let go of the Taser.”
After a couple of minutes, the officer is lying on top of Lyoya, who is face down on the ground, still yelling for him to “let go of the Taser,” and proceeds to shoot him.
The Grand Rapids police officer shot Lyoya, a 26-year-old Congolese refugee, on April 4.
The police officer has not been named.
At Wednesday’s news conference, city manager Mark Washington said the city is “determined to get this right … our community deserves answers.”
Hundreds of protesters have since swarmed the streets, calling for accountability and justice for Lyoya.
On Tuesday evening, more than 100 people marched to the City Commission meeting to demand action from city officials, citing a history of police brutality.
“We’re going on three years, we have went to every single commission meeting, protested, marched and did petitions telling these city officials numerous times that GRPD is on a power trip, and if they don’t start holding them accountable, another Black person was going to be killed at the hands of the police,” one public commenter who identified herself only as Chelsea, said during a Tuesday city commission meeting.
Public commenters spoke for 3½ hours Tuesday, calling for police accountability.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker hasn’t brought any charges against the officer, who has not been identified. GRPD says the officer is on administrative leave. Becker initially was against the release of the footage, saying it could impede the ongoing Michigan State Police investigation of the shooting.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who previously represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, is representing Lyoya’s family. Local pastors, Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack and Crump held a forum discussing the shooting on April 10.
Lyoya’s shooting is the latest incident involving GRPD to spark outcry over racial injustice.
In December 2017, 11-year-old Honestie Hodges was placed in handcuffs by a GRPD officer, as police searched for one of her aunts suspected in a stabbing.
In November 2019, the Grand Rapids city commission reached a $190,000 settlement with Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a Latino-American war veteran who was wrongfully detained by federal immigration officials. Ramos-Gomez, who was born in the U.S., was held for three days by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in December 2018.
A GRPD captain served a 20-hour, unpaid suspension for violating department policy when he notified ICE of Ramos-Gomez’s arrest.
In 2021, a GRPD officer unintentionally fired a round into a home after slipping. Police were following a car they believed to be stolen, although it ultimately was not the car they were looking for. As officers moved in on the car’s driver, a Black man, after he exited the vehicle, an officer slipped and fired a round, which hit the driver’s home. No one was struck by the bullet.
Becker charged the officer with careless discharge of a firearm resulting in property damage, a misdemeanor, in January.
Contact Emma Stein: [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_emmastein.