GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — EDITOR’S NOTE: The footage above may not be suitable for all viewers.
Viewer discretion is advised.
The Grand Rapids Police Department released video footage of an officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop that turned deadly last week.
The shooting happened Monday, April 4 just after 8 a.m. near the intersection of Griggs Street and Nelson Avenue SE in Grand Rapids.
Authorities said a GRPD officer initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle with a faulty license plate. Lyoya, who was driving the vehicle, fled from police on foot.
After a physical struggle with the officer, Lyoya was shot and killed.
VIDEO OF THE SHOOTING
Authorities released several angles that capture the altercation: body-worn camera, in-car video, a neighbor’s doorbell video and cellphone video the passenger of Lyoya's car recorded.
That cellphone video captures the moment the officer shoots Lyoya.
GRPD said that some of the video was redacted to "protect the privacy of some," but that audio has not been edited.
The video below is edited to not show the fatal shot and the aftermath.
The dashcam video shows Patrick Lyoya getting out of the vehicle as soon as the officer rolls up. It shows what happened, including the conversation leading to the physical struggle. The fatal shooting occurs out of frame from this dashcam video angle.
Authorities showed the angle of the officer's body camera.
That camera recorded until the police department said it was deactivated. GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom said it was not clear how the camera became deactivated.
Authorities showed a neighbor's surveillance video that captured the stop and the fatal gunshot from a distance.
Click here to go to GRPD’s website where you can find the body camera footage, in-squad car video, cellphone video and doorbell video of the shooting the department released.
WARNING: THIS LINK CONTAINS PROFANITY AND SHOWS THE LOSS OF LIFE. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
WHO IS PATRICK LYOYA
Patrick Lyoya was a 26-year-old Congolese refugee. His family fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States fearing violence. Lyoya was his parents’ firstborn son, and has five younger siblings. He was also a father to two daughters.
Friends described him as a hard worker and a big fan of soccer.
13 ON YOUR SIDE previously spoke with his father, Peter Lyoya, through an interpreter.
"I didn’t believe that this could ever happen to me in this country," Peter said. He says his family came to the United States for a safer life. "And I’m asking myself, 'why did I come here?'"
CALLS FOR AND AGAINST RELEASING THE FOOTAGE
The release of the footage comes after increasing community pressure to do so.
GRPD Chief Winstrom, who is in his second month on the job, made a vow to make the video available no later than noon on Friday, April 15.
"Since this tragic event occurred on Monday morning and in the hours and days that followed, I have been consistent in my commitment to transparency. I have publicly stated my intention to release the video next week and I intend to keep that promise. I have also committed to protecting the integrity of the investigation in the interests of justice and accountability,” Winstrom said in a statement.
Days after the incident, Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Becker indicated his office will not be releasing any evidence related to the shooting. He asked involved police agencies to do the same.
Becker said doing so will help “maintain the integrity of this investigation.”
Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the Grand Rapids Police Department to release the video, which they have chosen to do.
Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack, who has lost family members to gun violence, was outspoken in demanding authorities to release the video all while asking the community to remain peaceful.
Lyoya’s family, who viewed the video before it was released, called for transparency. The family retained renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump.
His office issued this statement on Monday, April 11:
“The Lyoya family came to our country in pursuit of the American dream, but instead are now living a traumatic American nightmare as they have to bury their loved one due to police brutality. We are once again reminded of how swiftly a police interaction can turn deadly for Black men in America and just how far we have to go to change that.
“From what Patrick’s father has expressed after viewing the body camera footage, we believe that the release of the footage will show the true and raw narrative of how Patrick lost his life to police. We will continue to push for the public release of the footage from this incident and full transparency from Michigan State Police as they continue to investigate this tragic incident.”
Crump is an attorney who specializes in civil rights cases and has represented the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE INVESTIGATION
The Michigan State Police are investigating the shooting.
Detectives will interview eyewitnesses and comb through over evidence, including both the body camera footage and dash cam footage taken during the altercation.
Once complete they will hand over their findings to the prosecutor’s office who will determine what’s next.
GRPD said it’s standard practice to wait for MSP’s investigation to be complete before they launch an internal affairs review. The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability will monitor the investigations and review any findings.
The OPA will also make recommendations on any necessary policy improvements that may be brought to light as a result of the investigation.
Authorities are asking anyone who has any additional information or video to contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.
THE COMMUNITY’S RESPONSE
A large group gathered in Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 9 to protest the death of Lyoya.
Community members marched, held signs demanding justice and called on the Grand Rapids Police Department to release body cam and dash cam footage of the altercation.
A vigil was held after the march to remember Lyoya.
On Sunday, community members gathered for a forum to talk about the death of Lyoya.
The discussion focused on “community-based discourse, dialogue and dissemination of information” surrounding Lyoya’s death. While the event was partially to inform attendees and call for justice, it also aimed to comfort Lyoya’s family and those impacted by his death.
Guest speakers included Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack, Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, and local NAACP President Cle Jackson. Attendees also heard from Grand Rapids pastors.
The forum was held Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ Family Life Center in Grand Rapids.
This forum came a day after community members marched in memory of Lyoya, calling for footage of the shooting to be released.
"We pray every day that our child won't become the next George Floyd or the next Breonna Taylor, or the next Ahmaud Arbery, or the next Stephon Clark, or the next Alton Sterling, or the next Eric Garner," said Crump.
Crump's law firm was officially hired by the Lyoya family. He says their current focus is on releasing the body and dash camera footage, and after, they're hoping for due process and the prosecution of the officer responsible.
"It was a traffic stop," said Crump. "You should not be sentenced to death over a traffic stop."
TUESDAY’S RALLY, MARCH TO CITY COMMISSION MEETING
On Tuesday, April 13, community activists and others organized a rally and march to the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting.
More than a hundred people marched through downtown to voice their opinions to city leaders during the public comment portion of the meeting.
GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom was in the crowd, and speakers often directly addressed him and other commissioners to voice their concerns about police actions in the city.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.