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Family of Patrick Lyoya wants police officer responsible for fatal shooting fired, prosecuted

Dorcas Lyoya, the mother of Patrick Lyoya, speaks at a press conference on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Dorcas Lyoya, the mother of Patrick Lyoya, speaks at a press conference on Thursday, April 14, 2022.

Updated April 14, 2022, at 7:57 p.m.

Dorcas Lyoya stood inside a Grand Rapids church Thursday afternoon, her cheeks wet with tears, trying to describe what it was like seeing her son, Patrick Lyoya, killed by a police officer.

She spoke through a translator.

She said her family fled to the United States to escape war.

“I thought that we came to a safe land, a haven, a safe place. And I start thinking now, I’m surprised and astonished to see that my friend — it is here that my son has been killed with bullets,” she said.

The family is calling the the killing an execution, and they want criminal charges to be filed. The videos of the shooting released by Grand Rapids police yesterday show Lyoya get out of his car after being pulled over by a police officer for an incorrect license plate. Lyoya stood outside his vehicle, looking confused.

“What’d I do wrong?” he asked the officer.

"The plate doesn’t belong on this car. Do you have a license or no?" the officer replied.

Lyoya asked the car passenger to look for his wallet. Then he tried to walk away. It’s not entirely clear how much he understood the officer.

"No. No. No. Stop, stop," the officer said.

The officer tried to grab him, and Lyoya ran. The officer chased and tried to tackle him. They struggled for more than a minute.

At one point, the video shows the officer tried to tase Lyoya, and Lyoya grabbed the barrel of the taser in his hand.

Then, with Lyoya on the ground facing down, and the officer on top, the officer reached for his gun and shot at the back of Lyoya’s head, killing him.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said during a press conference Wednesday that the shooting is still being investigated by the Michigan State Police, and he’s not yet willing to draw any conclusions about what the videos show.

“There’s a lot of factors. There’s what happened before, how the stop — you know, why the foot pursuit. There’s what happens after, when CPR was started," Winstrom said. "How long did the body stay on scene? There’s a range of questions. I don’t have all those answers because this is not a Grand Rapids Police Department investigation.”

And while that external investigation continues, there’s another thing Winstrom says he won’t do. He won’t name the officer who pulled the trigger. That’s despite calls from Lyoya’s family to do just that — calls that are echoed by the protesters marching in the streets of Grand Rapids.

Original post, April 14, 2022, at 5:14 p.m.

Attorneys for Patrick Lyoya’s family said the family wants to know the identity of the police officer who shot Lyoya on April 4. They also want the officer to be fired and prosecuted.

The officer shot Lyoya after a traffic stop and a struggle over the officer's Taser.

Attorney Ben Crump spoke at a press conference Thursday along with an interpreter for Lyoya's parents, who are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“It is an unjustifiable use of deadly force because the police escalated a traffic stop into an execution,” he said.

Dorcas Lyoya, Patrick’s mother, spoke through the interpreter. She said the family fled violence in Congo.

“I thought that I came to a safe land and having a safe place," she said. "And I start thinking now I’m surprised and astonished to see that my son — that it’s here that my son has been killed with bullets.”

The Michigan State Police is investigating. The Grand Rapids police chief said on Wednesday he’s withholding the officer’s name until the investigation is finished.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
Rebecca Williams is senior editor in Michigan Radio's newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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