Video: Michigan cop on black man’s back shot him | National/World News
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A black man face down was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Michigan police officer, the violent culmination of a traffic stop, a brief foot chase and a struggle over a stun gun, according to videos of the April 4 incident released Wednesday.
Patrick Lyoya, 26, was killed outside a home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The white officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to “drop” his Taser, at one point demanding, “Drop the Taser!”
Citing a need for transparency, the city’s new police chief, Eric Winstrom, released four videos, including critical footage of the shooting recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car that rainy morning.
“I consider this a tragedy. … It was a progression of sadness for me,” said Winstrom, a former high-ranking Chicago police commander who became Grand Rapids chief in March. The city of about 200,000 people lies about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
The video shows Lyoya fleeing from the officer who arrested him for driving with a license plate that did not belong to the vehicle. They struggled in front of several houses as Lyoya’s passenger got down and watched.
Winstrom said the taser fight lasted about 90 seconds. In the final moments, the officer was on top of Lyoya, occasionally kneeling on his back to subdue him.
“From my view of the video, the Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact,” Winstrom told reporters. “And Mr. Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that’s the only information I have.”
State police are investigating the shooting. Kent County Chief Medical Examiner Dr Stephen Cohle said he had completed the autopsy but toxicology testing was not complete.
Traffic control was tense from the start. The video shows Lyoya, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, getting out of the car before the officer approached. He ordered Lyoya to get back in the vehicle but the man refused.
The officer asked him if he spoke English and demanded his driver’s license. The chase on foot began soon after, the video shows.
Winstrom did not identify the officer, a seven-year veteran who is on paid leave during the investigation.
“Me coming from Chicago for 20 years, I’ve dealt with a lot of police shootings myself, so I have a lot of experience in that area,” the chief said. “I was hoping to never have to use that experience here.”
Video was collected from the Lyoya passenger, the officer’s body-worn camera, the officer’s patrol car, and a doorbell camera. Prosecutor Chris Becker, who will decide whether charges are warranted, opposed the release but said Winstrom could act on his own.
Becker said the public shouldn’t expect a quick decision.
“Although the videos released today are an important piece of evidence, not all of them are evidence,” he said.
City Manager Mark Washington warned that the videos would lead to “expressions of shock, anger and pain”. Some downtown businesses closed their storefronts and concrete barricades surrounded police headquarters.
Lyoya had two young daughters and five siblings, said Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke to her family.
“He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him,” said Whitmer, a Democrat.
Prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, speaking on behalf of Lyoya’s family, called on Wednesday for the officer responsible for the shooting to be fired and prosecuted.
“The video clearly demonstrates that this was a unnecessary, excessive and deadly use of force against an unarmed black man who was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life,” Crump said in a statement.
Crump and Lyoya’s family are scheduled to hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
More than 100 people marched toward Grand Rapids City Hall ahead of a city commission meeting Tuesday night, chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.”
Several hundred protesters gathered outside the Grand Rapids Police Department on Wednesday after the videos were released, some swearing and shouting from behind barricades. The group demanded that authorities release the name of the officer responsible for the shooting.
Some businesses reduced their opening hours on Wednesday, closing early. Some windows boarded up. But the protest remained nonviolent with protesters demanding justice for Lyoya and other black lives lost in police-involved shootings.
Winstrom said last week that he met Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, and they both cried.
“I understand as a father. … It’s just heartbreaking,” the chef told WOOD-TV.
As in many American cities, police in Grand Rapids have sometimes been criticized for the use of force, particularly against black people, who make up 18% of the population.
In November, the Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit over the practice of photographing and fingerprinting people who have never been charged with a crime. Grand Rapids said the policy changed in 2015.
A downtown street has been designated Breonna Taylor Way, named after the black and Grand Rapids native woman who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in a botched 2020 drug raid.
White reported from Detroit. AP reporters Corey Williams in West Bloomfield, Michigan; David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; and John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan, contributed to this story.