Police in Michigan release video footage of Grand Rapids officer fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya

Police in Michigan release video footage of Grand Rapids officer fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya

After hundreds gathered to protest the shooting of Patrick Lyoya, police officials from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said they would release footage of the incident. Lyoya was fatally shot on April 4, after his vehicle was stopped by Grand Rapids officers for having an unregistered license plate issue, the Associated Press reported. Lyoya leaves behind two small children, a two-year-old and a three-month-old.

Requests for the video ensued after Police Chief Eric Winstrom said Lyoya tried running away and was fatally shot during a “lengthy struggle” with the officer. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker first suggested police not release any evidence, including video, until the investigation is complete. However, officials opted to share footage upon demand.

“There are still many questions which remain unanswered,” Becker wrote in a press release. “As is our policy with any ongoing investigation, we do not release any material for public consumption.”

The unedited footage released by Grand Rapids Police Department depicts the 26-year-old Black man moments before he died.  In the video, Lyoya can be seen lying face down on the ground when an officer shoots him in the back of the head. The shooting was described by a representative of the family who saw it as “execution-style,” CNN reported.

Released Wednesday, the video is made of footage from the officer’s body camera, dashboard camera, a cellphone, and a home surveillance system. According to the police department, neither the videos nor audio released will be edited, although “some video images may have been redacted/blurred to ensure privacy.”

Pastor Israel Siku, serving as an interpreter for the Lyoyas, who speak Swahili, told CNN he was with Lyoya’s father just days after the shooting when they were invited by police to review the footage.

Describing the father’s reaction, Siku said: “He melt(ed) down, he didn’t have anything to say. He almost passed out.”

Siku also said he “could not sleep” himself after viewing it. “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.”

The Lyoya family has retained civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who also pushed for the video’s release. ”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.

In the roughly 20-minute long video, Lyoya can be seen struggling with the officer who at one point tells him “stop resisting,” as body footage shows him knee Lyoya. The footage also depicts the officer pulling out a Taser.

While Daily Kos will not be sharing the video in this post, you can watch the press conference that includes the video on the city of Grand Rapid’s YouTube channel.

“Because of the sensitive and graphic content of the video, the footage will stream as part of a presentation on the City’s YouTube channel with age restrictions in place. The video contains strong language as well as graphic images resulting in the loss of life. Viewer discretion is advised. Following the press conference, we will provide a public link with the nine source videos that was used to compile the presentation video,” Winstrom said in a statement released Tuesday.

Winstrom, who has been the police chief for 37 days, noted that the investigation is still in its early stages. Investigations into the shooting have also been handed over to the Michigan State Police, as standard procedure for anytime a local officer uses deadly force.

The officer who shot Lyoya was white. At this time, his name has not been released, but he has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation by the Michigan State Police.

The autopsy report has not been available to the public, as the medical examiner is awaiting toxicology and tissue test results. Results can take up to 60 days, but a full report won’t be released until after the police investigation is finished.

“This is the standard operating procedure to ensure the integrity of the investigative process,” Kent County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle said Wednesday. He added that Lyoya’s body is still being held pending instructions from the family on whether to release it to a funeral home or an independent agency for another autopsy.

“My office understands that the families we work with are grieving,” Cohle’s statement said. “We strive to ensure every family is treated with dignity and respect and is supported with compassion and honest information to help them make appropriate arrangements. I have personally spoken with Mr. Lyoya’s father (via interpreter), and my office stands ready to assist him with the release of his son’s body when the family has reached a decision on the arrangements.”

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