Friday, October 7, 2022

Michigan cop killed Patrick Lyoya ‘like an animal,’ family says

Shattered relatives of the young black father fatally shot by a Michigan police officer want the cop to be fired and prosecuted, insisting Patrick Lyoya was killed “like an animal” during a traffic stop.

Lyoya, a 26-year-old native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was shot in the back of the head by a white officer while face-down on a patch of grass on April 4 during a struggle over the cop’s Taser in Grand Rapids .

Lyoya’s grieving parents, Peter and Dorcas Lyoya, who took their six children from Congo to escape unrest in 2014, called for the officer to be identified, prosecuted and terminated during an emotional press conference Thursday, the Washington Post reported.

“My life has come to the end,” Peter Lyoya said through an interpreter. “My life was Patrick, my son. I was thinking that Patrick would take my place. And to see that my son has been killed like an animal by this police officer, and to see this video they showed, I see that I have no life.”

Peter Lyoya says his life has come to an end after the death of his son, Patrick.
AP/Anna Nichols
This image grab from a handout video released by the Grand Rapids Police Department, on April 14, 2022, shows footage moments before the fatal shooting of a young Black man by a white police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Patrick was face-down on the ground when he was fatally shot in the head by a Grand Rapids police officer after resisting arrest on April 4, 2022.
Grand Rapids Police Department/A
Patrick Lyoya's mother Dorcas Lyoya sheds tears during a news conference at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ Family Life Center in Grand Rapids, Mich.  on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Dorcas Lyoya said before emigrating to America, she couldn’t believe “there can be execution-style” in the country.
Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom has released four videos of the fatal encounter that began when Lyoya, who was unarmed, was stopped for driving a car with a license plate that didn’t match the vehicle.

One clip showed Lyoya exiting the car, ignoring the officer’s commands, and trying to flee. He then tried to grab the cop’s stun gun during a struggle that lasted about 90 seconds before he was shot after the officer ordered him to “drop the Taser,” footage shows.

The unidentified officer, a seven-year department veteran, has been placed on paid leave as state investigators probe the shooting.

Lyoya’s family was joined Thursday by prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who said the footage clearly showed the officer displayed “unnecessary [and] excessive” use of force during the encounter.

“And his mother and father and their family are asking that the state attorney charge him to the full extent of the law for killing their son, for breaking their hearts, for making his young children orphans,” Crump told reporters Thursday. “Equal justice requires it.”

Hundreds of protesters descended upon Grand Rapids police headquarters after department officials released footage of the deadly traffic stop Wednesday. Demonstrators sang “Black lives matter” and “Name the killer cop” during the peaceful but pointed rally, the Washington Post reported.

Gabriel Coriana adds flowers to a small memorial that sits along the street near the spot where Patrick Lyoya was killed on April 14, 2022 in
Patrick Lyoya was unarmed when he was stopped for driving a car with a license plate that didn’t match the vehicle.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
A TV display shows video evidence of a Grand Rapids police officer struggling with and shooting Patrick Lyoya at Grand Rapids City Hall on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom has released four videos of the fatal encounter.
AP/Grand Rapids Police Department
Peter Lyoya, the father of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year old Black man who was shot and killed by a white Grand Rapids police officer following a traffic stop, speaks at a press conference.
Peter said his son was “killed like an animal.”
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Dorcas Lyoya, meanwhile, said she thought her family could finally breathe easy after escaping war and persecution in Africa upon arriving in the US eight years ago, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“They told us that in America, there’s peace, there’s safety, you’re not going to see killing anymore, that it was basically a safe haven,” she said through a translator.

The parents, mourning the loss of their first-born son and father of two, then shifted their attention back to the unnamed officer who shot him, saying he was “supposed to be protecting” Patrick.

Protesters march through downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., near the police department during a demonstration held after videos of the shooting of Patrick Lyoya.
Patrick Lyoya’s death has sparked several rallies against police brutality.
Daniel Shular/The Grand Rapids Press via AP
Demonstrators protest the killing of Patrick Lyoya, an unarmed Black man who was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids Police officer during a traffic stop on April 4.
The Lyoyas said the officer who killed their son was “supposed to be protecting” him.
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Dorcas and Peter Lyoya, parents of Patrick Lyoya, an unarmed Black man who was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids Police officer during a traffic stop on April 4, attends a news conference.
The Lyoyas are planning to file a lawsuit for the deadly shooting.
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

“I didn’t believe that … there’s a genocide in this country,” Peter Lyoya said. “I didn’t know that here in America, there can be execution-style … to be killed by the police officer.”

The Lyoyas said Thursday they planned to file a lawsuit in connection to the deadly shooting, likely in federal court, according to the Washington Post.

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