The Grand Rapids Police Department has said Lyoya was killed after an officer’s gun “discharged” during a “lengthy struggle.” But a representative for Lyoya’s family tells CNN he saw video of the shooting and believes the 26-year-old was killed “execution-style.”
Speaking during a news conference, City Manager Mark Washington offered his condolences to the family of Patrick Lyoya and referred to the video as “painful to watch.”
The department released police body camera, dashcam, cell phone, and home surveillance system footage of the deadly incident.
Police said before the news conference that neither the videos nor audio were edited. Some video images were edited or blurred to ensure privacy.
The incident began just after 8 am on April 4 when police say they pulled over a vehicle for a traffic stop. The driver, now known to be Lyoya, got out of the vehicle and at some point ran, Grand Rapids Police said at the time.
Not long after, “There was a lengthy struggle, I’m told it was over a minute and a half or two minutes of fighting,” Police Chief Eric Winstrom said previously.
“During the struggle, the officer’s weapon discharged, killing the man,” he added.
The Lyoya family moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the US in 2014, and has been working with their representative, Pastor Israel Siku, since Patrick’s death. Siku’s first language is Swahili and he also acts as an interpreter for the Lyoyas.
He told CNN he was with Lyoya’s father, just days after the shooting, when they were invited by police to review the video of the shooting.
Siku described the father’s reaction to seeing the video: “He melt(ed) down, he didn’t have anything to say. He almost passed out.”
At a community forum Sunday, Siku told a church full of people, “I saw the video, I could not sleep.”
“The boy was on the floor, the cop as he lays on him, pulls up the gun and shoots him in the head and back up. Patrick did not move,” he added.
There have been multiple protests and rallies on behalf of Lyoya. On Tuesday evening, dozens of people called for justice as they rallied outside a City Commission meeting. Inside the nearly five-hour meeting, 74 of the 75 members of the public who spoke expressed outrage and sorrow over Lyoya’s death.
In a statement to CNN, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said in part, “We are all working through a range of emotions from anger to confusion to grief but I’m confident as a community that we’re also patient and steadfast in our commitment to get to the truth.”
Michigan State Police investigating
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump — who has represented high-profile victims of police violence — has been retained by the Lyoya family and pushed for the release of all available video.
“We are once again reminded of how swiftly a police interaction can turn deadly for Black men in America and just how far we have to go to change that,” Crump said.
The investigation was handed over to Michigan State Police shortly after the shooting, Grand Rapids Police said. The state agency confirmed to CNN it was investigating at the request of the department and it is an “active, ongoing investigation.” Once completed, it would be turned over to the county prosecutor for potential charges.
Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Becker told CNN no decision has been made regarding the officer as the investigation isn’t complete. As for the impending release of video, he said, “They have to do what they think best and I’m not going to criticize that.” In a statement on April 7, he said, “To maintain the integrity of this investigation, I have requested that involved police agencies do not release any evidence until the investigation is complete.”
The Grand Rapids Police Department said both Michigan State Police and Becker are aware of the intended release. The results of the ongoing investigation will also be provided to the Grand Rapids police chief and the department’s internal affairs, Winstrom said in a statement.
“This is a use of deadly force. The test for deadly force is that the officer is entitled to use deadly force when defending himself against a reasonable threat of death or great bodily harm,” Winstrom said not long after the shooting.
“That’ll be the test the Michigan State Police use when they look at it initially. And that’ll be the same test I use to review it after their investigation is handed off to us.”