Michigan Official Calls Video of Officer Shooting Patrick Lyoya ‘Painful to Watch'

The 26-year-old Black man was fatally shot by a Grand Rapids police officer during a traffic stop on April 4

This screen grab from a Grand Rapids police cruiser's dashcam video shows an officer's confrontation with Patrick Lyoya, who fatally shot during a traffic stop.
Grand Rapids Police Department

A Michigan police officer struggling with a Black man over a Taser pulled out his gun and fatally shot him in the head while the 26-year-old was face down on the ground, according to videos of the April 4 confrontation released Wednesday.

Patrick Lyoya was killed by a Grand Rapids police officer during a traffic stop over a miss-matched license plate that was registered to another vehicle.

During a news conference Wednesday, Police Chief Eric Winstrom released a 20-minute video of the circumstances leading up to the shooting. It included footage from the officer's body camera, dashboard camera, a cellphone and a home surveillance system.

“I view it as a tragedy," said Winstrom, a former high-ranking Chicago police commander who became chief in March. "It was a progression of sadness for me."

The Grand Rapids Police Department released video from three different angles on Wednesday that show the moment an officer shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop.

Several hundred protesters gathered outside the Grand Rapids Police Department following the release of the videos with some cursing and shouting from behind barricades. The group demanded that officials make public the name of the officer in the shooting.

Some businesses cut their hours short Wednesday, closing early. Some boarded up windows. But the demonstration remained non-violent with protesters demanding justice for Lyoya and other Black lives lost in shootings involving police.

Winstrom last week said he met Lyoya's father, Peter Lyoya, and that they both cried.

“I get it as a father. ... It's just heart-wrenching," the chief told WOOD-TV.

Footage from the officer's cruiser showed a car being pulled over and Lyoya immediately exiting the vehicle as the officer shouts for him to "stay in the car!" The two appear to chat briefly before Lyoya starts to walk away. As the officer grabs him by the arm, Lyoya tries to run and a struggle ensues on the front lawn of two homes in a Grand Rapids neighborhood.

Body camera footage shows the officer using a Taser on Lyoya and then repeatedly demanding that Lyoya "let go" and "drop the Taser." The officer's body-worn camera turns off during the scuffle, which occurred out of view of the dashboard camera.

But it was cellphone video taken by a passenger in the car that captured the moment the officer removed his gun from his holster and shot Lyoya in the back of the head in what the victim's family described as "execution style."

City Manager Mark Washington called the video "painful to watch" and warned that the footage would lead to “expressions of shock, of anger and of pain.” He lamented Wednesday that Grand Rapids joined other cities across the country where another Black man was killed due to a law enforcement officer's use of lethal force.

"I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Patrick Lyoya, who's grieving the death of a son, a father and a brother," Washington said.

The officer, who is white and has been with the department since 2015, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Michigan State Police. Winstrom said Wednesday the department will not name the officer until he is charged with a crime.

"We don’t name suspects. If the officer is charged with a crime we will name him at that time,” he added.

Hundreds of demonstrators had joined Lyoya's family outside the Grand Rapids Police Department over the weekend, demanding the release of the videos and calling for transparency after Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker urged police not to release any evidence, including video, until the investigation is complete.

“There are still many questions which remain unanswered,” Becker wrote in a press release. “As is our policy with any ongoing investigation, we do not release any material for public consumption.”

Winstrom pledged to release the videos anyways by Friday, April 15.

Ahead of Wednesday's press conference, the family asked the community not to protest after the footage is released, according to NBC affiliate WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

“No protests at this time,” the family told the outlet. “We don’t want violence out there. We want to avoid any violence.”

The family is being represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has also represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. 

Lyoya and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 2014 from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He leaves behind two children, a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old.

Kent County's chief medical examiner, Dr. Stephen Cohle, said he completed the autopsy on the day of Lyoya's death, but that toxicology results haven't been completed. He said the full report would not be released until state police complete an investigation.

“This is the standard operating procedure,” Cohle said.

The Associated Press and NBC's Danielle Abreu and Chatwan Mongkol contributed to this report.

Contact Us