(WABNEWS) — Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan released multiple videos Wednesday of an officer’s encounter with Patrick Lyoya in early April. Two of these videos show the fatal shot during a fight after a traffic stop.
The Rapids Police Department released video from a police body camera, a police unit’s dash cam, cell phone video, and video from a home surveillance system as officers answered questions from police officers. reporters at a press conference on the deadly incident on April 4 in which Lyoya was killed.
Police said before the news conference that neither the video nor the audio was edited. Some video images were edited or blurred to ensure privacy.RELATED
Police Chief Eric Winstrom said the officer who fired the shot will not be publicly identified unless there are criminal charges. The officer is on paid leave and his police powers have been suspended, the police chief said. Michigan State Police are conducting a criminal investigation.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented high-profile victims of police violence, has been hired by the Lyoya family and has pushed for the officer involved in the shooting to be fired and charged.
“The video clearly shows that this was an unnecessary, excessive and fatal use of force against an unarmed black male who was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life,” Crump said.
There have been multiple protests and rallies in favor of Lyoya. This Tuesday night, dozens of people called for justice as they demonstrated outside a City Commission meeting.
City officials said Wednesday they had taken “precautionary measures” around police headquarters ahead of the expected demonstrations. Several hundred people protested outside the building after the video was released, many chanting “Justice for Patrick.”
What the videos show in the case of Patrick Lyoya
The incident began shortly after 8 a.m. local time on April 4, when a police officer pulled over a vehicle for improperly registering it, authorities said. The officer has been with the department for seven years, according to police.
Lyoya, who was driving, gets out to talk to the officer, videos show.
The videos include the approximately two-minute, 40-second interaction, which begins with the officer walking to the car. Lyoya is seen getting out of the vehicle and is instructed by the officer to “get back in the car… buddy I’ll pull you over, do you have a license? Do you have a license?”
“What for?” Lyoya replies.
“I’m stopping you, do you have a license? Do you have a driver’s license? Do you speak English?” asks the policeman.
Lyoya confirms that he speaks English and says that his license is in the car. She opens the driver’s side front door and speaks to an unidentified passenger in the car.
He then closes the door, turns his back on the officer, and appears to walk to the front of the car.
“No, no, no, stop, stop,” the agent is heard saying, putting his hands on Lyoya’s shoulder and back.
Lyoya is seen resisting the officer’s touch and quickly backs away from the officer, running away from him before he is tackled to the ground by the officer.
The audio of Lyoya speaking is indistinguishable, but as he continues to resist arrest, the officer is repeatedly heard saying “Stop” and “Stop resisting.”
The video shows Lyoya getting up and standing up, the officer pulls out and then deploys a Taser. Winstrom told reporters the Taser was deployed twice during the confrontation, but the spikes missed Lyoya.
“Drop the Taser,” the officer is heard saying on his body camera video.
At this point, the officer’s body camera was disabled. Winstrom said it takes a three-second button press to turn off the body camera and thought Lyoya’s body pressure caused the deactivation.
Another angle of the incident, taken from a neighborhood home surveillance camera, captures the rest of the altercation.
After the officer says, “Drop the Taser,” the two continue to fight on the front lawn of an unidentified residence. Approximately 90 seconds later, the officer is heard yelling, “Drop the taser,” followed by “Drop the taser.”
As the video is taken from a distance, less than three seconds later, the officer is heard shooting Lyoya, according to the video’s audio. Cell phone video also shows the fatal shot.
Lyoya was shot in the head, the chief said.
“It should be noted that Patrick never used violence against this officer, even though the officer used violence against him in multiple instances for what was a misdemeanor traffic stop,” Crump said.
Asked by WABNEWS what police officers are trained to do in these situations, the chief said, “Usually the answer is that he’s trying to get him into custody… He’s trying to protect that individual.
“The follow-up question, I’m sure, will be the use of force in politics, and I’m not going to comment on that. But the test is going to be whether, from the point of view of a reasonable police officer, if that force death was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to that officer.”
Winstrom said he had spoken with the officer, whom the chief said was in shock.
Lyoya’s family came to the US in 2014
The Lyoya family moved from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the US in 2014 and have been working with their representative, Pastor Israel Siku, since Patrick’s death. Siku’s first language is Swahili and he also acts as an interpreter for the Lyoya.
He told WABNEWS that he was with Lyoya’s father just days after the shooting when police invited them to review video of the shooting.
Siku described the father’s reaction to watching the video: “He melted, he had nothing to say. He almost passed out.”
At a community forum on Sunday, Siku told a packed church: “I saw the video, I couldn’t sleep.”
“The boy was on the floor, the police officer lays on him, pulls out the gun and shoots him in the head and backs up. Patrick didn’t move,” he added.
Michigan State Police investigate
Michigan State Police said that once the investigation is complete, the evidence will be turned over to the county attorney, who will decide on charges.
Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker asked the public for patience.
“The Michigan State Police’s independent investigation into the incident is not complete. This is an extremely critical incident, and is being taken very seriously by all involved in the investigation,” it said in a statement Wednesday.
“…while the videos released today are important evidence, they are not all of the evidence… By law, we are required to review all available evidence before considering whether to bring charges and, if so, which ones.” should be the appropriate charges,” he said.
A death certificate with the cause and manner of Lyoya’s death. The death has been arranged but will not be completed until toxicology and tissue test results have been received from a contracted laboratory, Kent County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen D. Cohle said in a statement. on Wednesday, adding that his office has requested that the results be expedited.
The full autopsy report, which will be done once toxicology and tissue test results have been received, will not be publicly available until state police conclude their investigation, as is standard operating procedure, Cohle said.
The medical examiner said the family has also been offered the opportunity to seek an independent autopsy.
— WABNEWS’s Stefanie Becker and Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.