Family of a Black man shot in the head by Grand Rapids police officer said they fled from violence abroad only to see their son killed in the US
- The family of a Black man fatally shot by a
Michiganpolice officer is calling for justice. Patrick Lyoya's parents fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 to escape civil unrest.
The family of Patrick Lyoya, the 26-year-old Black man who was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids police officer earlier this month, decried his "execution-style" death in a Thursday press conference, calling for the responsible officer to be identified, terminated, and prosecuted.
The press conference came one day after the Grand Rapids Police Department released a series of videos showing the fatal encounter during a traffic stop on April 4, 2022.
Patrick's parents, Peter and Dorcas Lyoya, fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 to escape civil unrest and offer their six children a better life, according to the family's attorney Ben Crump.
But through tears on Thursday, Dorcas Lyoya said she was "astonished" that it was here, in the United States, that her son was "killed with bullets."
"When we ran away from the war in Congo because it was unsafe, I thought that I came to a safe land, a safe place," she said through an interpreter.
Patrick's father, Peter Lyoya, also spoke via interpreter during the press conference, saying his eldest son was "my life."
"I was thinking that Patrick would take my place and to see that my son has been killed like an animal by this officer, to see this video they show, I see that I have no life," he said. "I see my heart being broken."
The Grand Rapids Police Department on Wednesday released dashcam footage from the police car, bodycam footage from the officer, home security camera footage, and a cellphone video taken by a passenger in a pulled-over car.
An unidentified white officer can be seen on the body-worn footage asking for Patrick Lyoya's driver license and then grabbing Lyoya after he walked away from the vehicle. The body-camera video captured the officer trying to wrestle Patrick Lyoya to the ground. The officer can be seen using a Taser and later tells Patrick Lyoya to "let go of the Taser."
The body-worn camera cuts off as the officer is on Patrick Lyoya's back. The police department said the pressure of the encounter caused the camera to "deactivate."
But in graphic footage captured by the home security system, the officer and Patrick Lyoya can be seen in a nearly three-minute struggle that ends with the officer pinning Lyoya to the ground. Footage shows the officer appearing to use his Taser at least twice on Patrick Lyoya, who, at one point, appears to try and grab the officer's Taser. As Patrick Lyoya is laying on his stomach with the officer on his back, the officer appears to shoot Lyoya in the back of the head, telling the bystander filming to "get back."
Thomas Lyoya, Patrick's brother, said watching the video was "the most horrifying thing I've ever seen in my life."
Patrick's father, Peter Lyoya, said he was shown the video before it was released but told to keep quiet about it — a tactic that Crump said authorities often use in officer-involved shootings in order to try and sweep encounters under the rug.
"You kill him with a bullet and now you're telling me to keep secret?" Peter Lyoya said.
In a response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Grand Rapids Police Department pointed Insider to a critical incident information webpage on the shooting.
The family also called on authorities to identify the officer after the department said Wednesday that he would not be named as he has not been charged with a crime.
"Patrick's family is asking that the state attorney charge [the officer] to the full extent of the law for killing their son, for breaking their hearts, for making his young children orphans, fatherless," Crump said.
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