Patrick Lyoya Family Seeks Peaceful Protest After Body Cam Video Released

Patrick Lyoya Bodycam Footage Protest Release Police
The family of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Black man shot dead April 4 by police in Michigan, request peaceful demonstration after a video of his final moments was released by Grand Rapids police. Above, city Police Chief Eric Winstrom speaks as Brandon Davis of the city's Office of Oversight and Public Accountability stands to his left and City Manager Mark Washington to his right at a press conference Wednesday. Bill Pugliano/Getty

The family of a Black man fatally shot by police in Michigan have called for peaceful protesting on the day that body cam footage of his last moments was released.

The Grand Rapids Police Department on Wednesday released video taken from a camera worn by an officer who confronted 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya during an April 4 traffic stop. The footage shows Lyoya, who appears unarmed, running away, then struggling with the officer after being pulled over. The footage cuts out after the officer and Lyoya struggle over a taser just before the shooting takes place, with police saying that the camera was inadvertently deactivated. It resumes after Lyoya had suffered a fatal shot to the back of his head.

Following a meeting with Lyoya's family on Wednesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pledged that the Michigan State Police would "conduct a transparent, independent investigation of the shooting" and that prosecutors would "take appropriate action on charges." Whitmer said that Lyoya's father Peter had asked those who protest the death to remain peaceful.

"The Lieutenant Governor and I spoke with Patrick's family and our hearts are with them and the Grand Rapids community who are dealing with unimaginable pain and loss," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "Patrick's father asked me to convey his hope that any demonstrations in his son's honor remain peaceful, and as Governor I share this view."

"We must come together and build a future where Black Michiganders are afforded equal rights, dignity, and safety in our communities," she continued. "I will never stop fighting to make Michigan a more equitable and just state."

A protest that lasted for more than four hours did take place in Grand Rapids following the release of the video footage. Byron Tollefson, a reporter for local NBC affiliate WOOD, tweeted that the protest had ended by about 9:30 p.m., with traffic returning to normal in the area outside the Grand Rapids Police Department.

There were no indications of any significant violence at the protest, with Tollefson's colleague Brian Sterling tweeting that the event was "peaceful."

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II added that Peter Lyoya "described his son as a generous and caring man whom he wants to be remembered peacefully" and stressed the need to "deliver accountability" to the family "as expeditiously as possible."

The name of the officer involved in the shooting, who has been placed on administrative leave, has not been released. Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said during the press conference on Wednesday that the officer was being treated "like we would anybody else" and that his name would be released "if the officer is charged with a crime."

Winstrom noted that he was not personally involved in the Michigan State Police investigation of the shooting "by design" and over concerns about a potential "conflict of interest."

In addition to the body-worn camera footage, Grand Rapids Police released videos of the shooting taken from multiple sources. One graphic video appears to show the officer straddling the facedown Lyoya while shouting, "drop the taser," just before shooting him in the back of his head. The taser is not clearly visible in the video, which ends after the officer shouts, "get back," to the person recording as he rises to stand over Lyoya's lifeless body.

A statement concerning the footage was released by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Lyoya family. Crump noted that Lyoya, the father of two young children, had immigrated to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo to "pursue the American Dream" for himself and his family but had received "a fatal bullet to the back of the head" instead.

"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," said Crump. "It should be noted that Patrick never used violence against this officer even though the officer used violence against him in several instances for what was a misdemeanor traffic stop."

"We demand that the officer who killed Patrick not only be terminated for his use of excessive and fatal force, but be arrested and prosecuted for the violent killing of Patrick Lyoya," he added.

Newsweek reached out to Crump's office for additional comment.

Update 4/13, 10:12 p.m. EST: This article has been updated to reflect that a peaceful protest took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, following the release of the police footage.