The family of the Michigan man who police officers murdered during a traffic stop restated their request for the termination and prosecution of the officer during a news conference on Thursday.
“They will express to you how very devastated they are at seeing, in their words, their son executed,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump stated during a news conference. Crump represents the family of the victim. Patrick Lyoya was an unarmed man who was shot and killed in Grand Rapids on April 4.
Relatives, including Lyoya’s parents, Dorcas and Peter, and his brother Thomas grieved at the community forum, demanding the prosecution of the officer involved in the happening and ordered justice for the 26-year-old.
The Lyoya family migrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United States in 2014.
“What is making me cry more is to see my son killed by a police officer for a small, small mistake,” Peter Lyoya expressed through an interpreter. “My life has come to an end.”
Patrick’s mother said she’s “deeply hurt and wounded” The family is in massive pain due to the incident.
“When we run away from war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I thought that I came to a safe land. And now, I’m surprised and astonished to see that my son is shot here,” Dorcas Lyoya communicated through an interpreter. “That is my beloved son, and you know how you love your first-born son.”
The incident began one morning on April 4. Authorities stopped Lyoya for improper registration, according to police.
Grand Rapids police released several videos showing footage that captured the tragic event. The video shows about two minutes and 40 seconds of the interaction. The footage begins with the officer stepping toward the car. Next, Lyoya is shown exiting the vehicle as instructed. The officer then asked her to get back in the car and asked him if he had a driver’s license and if he spoke English.
Lyoya verifies he spoke English and communicates that his license is in the car. Next, he opens the driver’s side front door and communicates to an unknown passenger in the vehicle. Then, according to video footage, he shuts his door, turns his back to the officer, and appears to walk toward the front of the car.
“No, no, no, stop, stop,” the officer says. He then positions his hands on Lyoya’s shoulder and back. Lyoya quickly backs away from the officer, running away before the officer tackles him to the ground and tells Lyoya to “stop resisting.”
The video captures Lyoya getting up, and the officer draws and uses his Taser.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom told reporters that the Taser was deployed twice, but it didn’t hit Lyoya.
“Let go of the Taser,” the officer says on his body cam video.
After that, the officer’s body camera was turned off. Winstrom explained that it takes pushing a button for three seconds to turn off the body camera, and he thinks pressure from Loya’s body caused the deactivation.
Another angle caught on tape by a neighborhood resident captures the rest of the confrontation. According to audio from the video, the officer’s gun was heard shooting Lyoya. The video also reveals the fatal shot.
Lyoya took a hit to the head, Winstrom stated.
Patrick is described as “non-violent,” according to his father. He felt the officer was the one being confrontational. The father and family still do not know the officer that shot his son.
On Wednesday, Winstrom said that the officer involved in the incident would not be identified unless there were criminal charges against him. The officer has been with the department for seven years and is also on paid leave. Michigan State Police are running a criminal investigation.
“This video was very difficult to watch because what you see in that video is an unnecessary and unjustifiable excessive use of force,” Crump voiced on Thursday. Crump has represented the families done wrongs in America, such as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Michael Brown, and other high-profile victims of police violence.
Crump outlined different actions the officer could have taken during the news conference to deescalate the situation instead of deploying his weapon.
“This officer failed to follow the basic training. When the officer engages Patrick he goes and puts his hands on him, and when Patrick goes to walk away he could’ve just stepped back and called for backup,” Crump said. “When you look at him escalating the situation, the officer was the one being violent.”
Crump expressed that despite the officer’s violence, Lyoya did not retaliate and had “combat” with the officer.
“Even after he deployed the Taser twice, if he had been following his training, that would’ve presented another opportunity to deescalate and call for backup,” Crump continues … “What was so wrong about him calling for calling for backup? It wasn’t like Patrick had murdered someone. It wasn’t like he had robbed anybody. He was being stopped for a traffic violation.”
Crump points out that nothing in the body and surveillance footage indicated Patrick was an immediate danger to the officer.
“You cannot shoot an unarmed person just because they resist,” Crump said, adding, “and you cannot shoot an unarmed person just because of the color of their skin.”
Crump said he and the Lyoya family had requested the state’s counsel to prosecute the officer to the greatest extent of the law.