A Michigan police officer fatally shot a Black man while kneeling on his back after a struggle, according to videos of the April 4 shooting released Wednesday.
Police in Grand Rapids, Mich., released four videos, including cellphone footage showing the shooting of Patrick Lyoya after a traffic stop that was recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car.
Video from the officer’s dashcam, bodycam and a nearby home security camera shows Lyoya, 26, running from the scene after an officer stopped him for a license plate violation. They struggled on the front lawn of a few homes in a Grand Rapids neighborhood.
Lyoya took off after the officer grabbed his arm to stop him from walking away, according to footage captured by the officer’s body camera.
“Let go of the Taser,” the officer shouted multiple times as the two men struggled on the ground. He also yelled at Lyoya to “stop resisting” as he attempted to restrain the man.
The bodycam video shows Lyoya trying to grab the Taser or push it away as the officer aims it at him. Police Chief Eric Winstrom said two attempts to deploy the Taser did not connect with Lyoya, adding the two men both had hands on the weapon for “about 90 seconds.”
After managing to get himself on top of Lyoya, who the video shows is face down on a front lawn, the officer is seen grabbing something from his belt. A loud gunshot is heard seconds later.
Lyoya does not move after the officer returns to his feet and is heard reporting the shooting to dispatchers.
Before the videos were released, City Manager Mark Washington warned they would lead to public “expressions of shock, of anger and of pain.”
Winstrom said the officer is on paid leave as an investigation into the shooting continues. He said the officer’s name will only be released if the investigation leads to criminal charges.
More than 100 people marched to Grand Rapids City Hall before a City Commission meeting Tuesday night, chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.”
The decision to release the video was made last week, according to previous police statements.
Winstrom last week said he met Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, and that they both cried.
“I get it as a father … It’s just heart-wrenching,” the chief told WOOD-TV.
Pastor Israel Siku, a representative and interpreter for the Lyoyas who speak Swahili, told CNN that he had seen the video along with Peter Lyoya at the invitation of police before Wednesday’s press conference.
“He (melted) down,” Siku said to describe the father’s reaction. “He didn’t have anything to say. He almost passed out.”
Siku said he “could not sleep” after seeing the video.
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Kent County’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Stephen Cohle, said he completed the autopsy on the day of Lyoya’s death, but that toxicology results haven’t been completed. He said the full report would not be released until state police complete an investigation.
“This is the standard operating procedure,” Cohle said.
As in many U.S. cities, Grand Rapids police have been occasionally criticized over the use of force, particularly against Black people, who make up 18 per cent of the population.
In November, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit over the practice of photographing and fingerprinting people who were never charged with a crime. Grand Rapids said the policy changed in 2015.
A downtown street has been designated Breonna Taylor Way, named for the Black woman and Grand Rapids native who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, during a botched drug raid in 2020.
— with files from the Associated Press
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