Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan released videos on Wednesday of an officer’s encounter with a 26-year-old black man on Wednesday that reveal the moment the cop fired a fatal shot during a struggle after a traffic stop.
Patrick Lyoya, 26, was fatally shot in the back of his head by the unnamed officer last week after the two got into a dispute over the officer’s Taser.
The white officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to ‘let go’ of his Taser after police stopped the young black man for driving with a license plate that did not belong to the vehicle.
Video shows Lyoya, who was a refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo, getting out of the car before the officer approached. The officer then ordered Lyoya to get back into the vehicle, but Lyoya declined.
The officer then asked if the 26-year-old spoke English, and demanded to see his driver’s license. A chase on foot then ensued, where the men struggle over the officer’s Taser, video shows.
The city’s Police Chief Eric Winstrom said he was looking to be fully transparent in releasing four videos of the incident, including a video recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car.
‘I view it as a tragedy . . . It was a progression of sadness for me,’ said Winstrom.
Winstrom said the fight over the Taser lasted about 90 seconds. In the final moments of the struggle, the officer was on top of Lyoya, with his knee against his back.
‘From my video of the video, Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact,’ Winstrom said. ‘And Mr Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that’s all the information that I have.’
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented high-profile victims of police violence, has been retained by the Lyoya family. He is pushing for the officer to be fired and charged in the fatal shooting.
‘The video clearly shows that this was an unnecessary, excessive, and fatal use of force against an unarmed Black man who was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life,’ Crump said.
Lyoya had two young daughters and five siblings, according to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who met with his father last week.
‘He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him,’ Whitmer said.
There have been several protests and rallies held in the city this week on behalf of Loyoya. Over 100 demonstrators marched to Grand Rapids City Hall before a City Commission meeting Tuesday night, chanting, ‘Black lives matter’ and ‘No justice, no peace.’
The officer involved in the shooting will not be identified publicly unless there are criminal charges. That officer is on paid leave and his police powers were suspeded, the chief said.
The city of Grand Rapids is made up of about 200,000 people, of which 18% are black, and is located about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
Michigan State Police are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.
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