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Police in Michigan  release videos of fatal police shooting of Patrick Lyoya

The Grand Rapids Police Department in Michigan released several videos on Wednesday of the fatal police shooting of a Black man during a traffic stop this month.

The videos, from a body-worn camera, an in-car camera, a cellphone and a home surveillance system, show the final moments of Patrick Lyoya’s life. 

Lyoya, 26, was killed on the morning of April 4. 

April 11, 202202:04

Taken together, the videos — played during a news conference on Wednesday — show the moments before Lyoya’s death, his initial interaction with the officer who pulled him over, the fatal shooting and the moments after his body appears to go limp on the front lawn of a home.

Dashcam video from the officer’s car shows Lyoya pull over in a residential neighborhood on a rainy morning with the officer coming to a stop behind him. Both Lyoya and the officer, who has not been publicly identified, exit their vehicles.

The officer can be heard in video from his body camera telling Lyoya to get back in his car and asking for his driver’s license.

Lyoya, who remains outside the car, asks the officer several times what he did wrong and asks a passenger in the car to retrieve his license.

The officer, according to the body camera video, says Lyoya was stopped because “the plate doesn’t belong on this car.”

In the seconds that follow, Lyoya appears to walk away and the officer appears to try to restrain and handcuff him. Lyoya then runs away and the officer chases him, eventually pinning him to the ground.

The two struggle and the officer can be heard saying “stop” and “stop resisting” several times.

The officer, who appeared to have unholstered his Taser, also yells at least five times for Lyoya to either “let go of the Taser” or “drop the Taser,” according to cellphone video captured by the passenger in Lyoya’s car, the only one of the four videos to clearly capture the shooting.

That video shows the officer pin Lyoya down to the ground once more, with a knee to his back, grab his gun and shoot Lyoya in the back of the head while he is facing down.

The chief of the city’s police department, Eric Winstrom, said the videos and audio were unedited, except for redactions and blurs to ensure privacy. The face of Lyoya’s passenger, who recorded the cellphone video, is blurred. That person has not been publicly identified.

The civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Lyoya’s family, said in a statement after the videos’ release that it “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.”

“It should be noted that Patrick never used violence against this officer even though the officer used violence against him in several instances for what was a misdemeanor traffic stop,” Crump said.

The investigation is being handled by the Michigan State Police, which will hand over its findings to the Kent County prosecutor, who ultimately will decide if the officer will face criminal charges, Winstrom said.

The county prosecutor, Chris Becker, had asked the department to not release videos of the shooting until the state police investigation was complete, to “maintain the integrity of this investigation.” 

Becker did not immediately return a request for comment by NBC News on the videos’ release. 

The officer who shot Lyoya is on paid leave and has been stripped of his police power pending the investigation, Winstrom said.

The officer, who is white, has been with the department since 2015. His name has not been released.

Crump has called for the officer’s arrest and prosecution for the “violent killing of Patrick Lyoya.”

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, also called for the officer to be “held accountable.”

“An unregistered license plate should not be a death sentence,” Johnson said.

Some members of Lyoya’s family and their language interpreter who had seen video of the encounter before Wednesday’s release said he was killed “execution style.” 

“I saw the video. I could not sleep,” Israel Siku, the Lyoya family’s interpreter, said Sunday at a community forum at Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids. The family’s native language is Swahili. 

Lyoya immigrated with his family to the U.S. in 2014 from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that she has spoken with the family.

“The lieutenant governor and I spoke with Patrick’s family and our hearts are with them and the Grand Rapids community who are dealing with unimaginable pain and loss,” Whitmer said. “Patrick was 26. He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him.”

Whitmer also said Lyoya’s father asked her to convey “his hope that any demonstrations in his son’s honor remain peaceful.”

“We must come together and build a future where Black Michiganders are afforded equal rights, dignity, and safety in our communities.”

Barricades and fencing were put up around the police department’s main building as well as in several other areas ahead of the release of the videos.

Mark Washington, the city’s manager, said the steps were “precautionary measures.”

“This not only secures the facility but ensures we’re able to provide public safety continuity of service for the entire community,” Washington said in a statement. “I understand these precautions may be alarming to some, I can assure you that we have no current indication of an imminent threat.”

Demands for the release of the videos have spurred rallies and protests throughout Grand Rapids, including one during a city commission meeting on Tuesday night. 

For hours, a long line of community members in a packed City Hall room expressed their anger and frustrations to the city’s top brass. 

Several called to defund the police and for city leaders to resign, including Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Washington, the city’s manager.

Others said they have been warning the city for years to scale back what they call “heavy-handed policing” and recalled previous violent interactions between police and members of the city’s Black community.

Last year, Grand Rapids police officers stopped and forcibly arrested a Black man they mistook for someone else. The city’s Internal Affairs Unit ultimately concluded that two officers were justified in initiating the traffic stop, and that another three officers were justified in their use of force during the arrest, which included knee strikes, according to the report recently obtained by MLive/The Grand Rapids Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In 2017, several officers stopped five unarmed Black preteen and teenage boys at gunpoint and forced them to walk backward to the police with their hands behind their head. They were searched, handcuffed and put into the back of police cruisers before being released. They were not the teens police were looking for, according to MLive. 

CORRECTION (Aug. 13, 2021, 6:45 ET): A previous version of this article misattributed this quotation: “It should be noted that Patrick never used violence against this officer even though the officer used violence against him in several instances for what was a misdemeanor traffic stop.” It is from Benjamin Crump, Patrick Lyoya’s family’s attorney, not Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.