‘An execution’: Patrick Lyoya’s family demands justice

Patrick Lyoya was “executed” by police, the 26-year-old Black man’s family and supporters have said, a day after authorities in the US state of Michigan released video footage showing an officer shoot Lyoya in the head as he was face down on the ground.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Lyoya, whose family is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was fatally shot on April 4 following a traffic stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about 240km (150 miles) northwest of Detroit.

Speaking during a news conference on Thursday, Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, said he never imagined that his eldest son could be killed by a police officer in the United States. “When I saw the video, my heart was deeply broken,” he said through a translator.

“Right now, my life has come to an end. My life was Patrick, my son,” Peter Lyoya told reporters.

“To see that my son has been killed like an animal by this police officer, to see this video they showed, I see that I have no life, I see my heart being broken,” he said. “I’m asking for justice. I’m asking for justice for Patrick.”

Lyoya’s killing has set off protests and renewed calls for an end to police violence against Black people in the US, where Black Lives Matter protests have been held since 2020. That year, an officer killed another unarmed Black man, George Floyd, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota – spurring widespread anger and demands for change.

Citing a need for transparency, police in Grand Rapids released videos on Wednesday showing the fatal shooting, including critical footage recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car that morning.

They show Lyoya stepping out of the car on a rainy street, seemingly confused and asking “What did I do?” as the officer repeatedly asks for a driver’s licence and orders him to get back inside the vehicle.

Video shows Lyoya running from the officer, who stopped him for driving with a licence plate that did not belong to the vehicle. They struggled in front of several homes and the officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to “let go” of his Taser, at one point demanding: “Drop the Taser!”

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said on Wednesday that the fight over the Taser lasted about 90 seconds. In the final moments, the officer was on top of Lyoya, kneeling on his back at times to subdue him.

“From my view of the video, 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 that I have.”

During Thursday’s news conference, prominent US civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said the videos showed an “unnecessary, unjustifiable, [and] excessive use of fatal force. You see a police officer escalate a minor traffic stop into a deadly execution.”

There was no reason for the officer to shoot Lyoya, said Crump, adding that the family is calling on authorities to charge the officer “to the full extent of the law for killing their son, for breaking their hearts, for making his young children orphans”.

“The video shows us that this is as his mother, father have said – an execution. There’s no way to try to spin it or justify it,” Crump told reporters. “That’s why we’re demanding justice for Patrick.”

Grand Rapids police officials have placed the officer involved in the shooting, who has not been named publicly, on administrative leave and have asked the Michigan State Police to investigate.

Prosecutors in Kent County told CNN on Wednesday that they will make a decision on possible criminal charges once the probe is complete.

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