On Wednesday, the police department in Grand Rapids, Michigan, released videos that show a white officer fatally shooting 26-year old Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop, the New York Times reports.
In the footage of the incident, which occurred on April 4, the unidentified officer is seen lying on Lyoya’s back before he appeared to shoot him in the head. Before the shooting took place, the officer wrestled him to the ground and seemed to be struggling to regain his taser.
“When I saw the video, it was painful to watch,” Mark Washington, the Grand Rapids city manager, said. “And I immediately asked, ‘What caused this to happen, and what more could have been done to prevent this from occurring?’”
Chief Eric Winstrom of the Grand Rapids Police department said that he was not aware of any weapons other than the officer’s gun and taser being found at the scene. Police body camera video shows the officer telling Lyoya that he is pulling him over because of his license plates.
Officials said that the unidentified officer joined the department in 2015.
Lyoya, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo immigrated to the United States in 2014, and had lived in Grand Rapids for about five years, according to Ben Crump, the family’s attorney.
“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. He called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted.
Michigan's Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement expressing her sympathy for the Lyoya family.
“The Michigan State Police will conduct a transparent, independent investigation of the shooting,” Whitmer’s statement read. “Then, prosecutors must consider all the evidence, follow the law and take appropriate action on charges. Justice is foundational to safety, and without justice, we are all less safe.”
Lyoya’s death further compounds the strained relations between the Grand Rapids police and the city's Black residents. Back in 2017, officers handcuffed an 11-year-old girl at gunpoint as she left her house. The officers were searching for a middle-aged woman who was wanted for a stabbing Those officers were not disciplined.
Earlier in the same year, five innocent teenagers were held at gunpoint by the Grand Rapids police. And in 2020, an officer was suspended for two days after shooting a protester in the face with a gas canister.
In an interview with 13 ON YOUR SIDE, Patrick’s father, Peter Lyoya, spoke through an interpreter about the unimaginable tragedy to his family.
"I didn’t believe that this could ever happen to me in this country," Peter said. He added that his family came to the United States for a safer life. "And I’m asking myself, 'why did I come here?'"
Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday, calling for the officers to be held accountable for Lyoya's death.
"Regardless of the color of his skin, that man should not have been killed," said DeAndre Jones, who was at the protest. The crowds shouted, "Black lives matter," "No justice, no peace" and "Name that murderer" in front of the Grand Rapids police department.