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Protest against the killing of Patrick Lyoya in Michigan

Source: Anadolu Agency / Getty

On April 4, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, a Black man from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was fatally shot in the back of the head by a police officer who had him face-down on the ground following a traffic stop that reportedly ended in a brief foot chase and a struggle over a police taser, the Associated Press reports.

On Wednesday, four videos, including footage taken by the passenger in Lyoya’s car, were released to the public despite the objection of the prosecutor who will decide if the officer will be charged.

“I view it as a tragedy… It was a progression of sadness for me,” said Eric Winstrom, who became Gand Rapids’ new police chief in March after serving for years as a high-ranking Chicago police commander.

From AP:

Video shows Lyoya running from the officer who stopped him for driving with a license plate that didn’t belong to the vehicle. They struggled in front of several homes while Lyoya’s passenger got out and watched.

Winstrom said 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.”

State police are investigating the shooting. Kent County’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Stephen Cohle, said he completed the autopsy but toxicology tests haven’t been finished.

The traffic stop was tense from the start. Video shows Lyoya, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, getting out of the car before the officer approached. He ordered Lyoya to get back in the vehicle but the man declined.

The officer asked him if he spoke English and demanded his driver’s license. The foot chase began soon after, video shows.

Prosecutor Chris Becker didn’t want the video footage—which was taken from Lyoya’s passenger, the body camera of the officer who shot him, the officer’s patrol car and a doorbell camera—to be released so soon, but he said Winstrom was within his right to release it.

“While the videos released today are an important piece of evidence, they are not all of the evidence,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the protests on Lyoya’s behalf have already started as more than 100 people marched to Grand Rapids City Hall before a City Commission meeting Tuesday night, chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.”

And, as usual, civil rights attorney Ben Crump is on the case and speaking out on behalf of the victim’s family.

“The video 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,” Crump said in a news release.

Because City Manager Mark Washington warned that the videos would lead to “expressions of shock, of anger and of pain”—and because far too many people buy into the propaganda that BLM protests are inherently violent when the vast majority of them are not—some downtown businesses boarded up their storefronts and closed up early in anticipation for civil unrest that never occurred. The demonstrations remained peaceful.

Protesters demanded, among other things, that the officer who shot Lyoya be named publicly. So far, the officer has not been identified, but AP reported that he’s a seven-year veteran who is currently on paid leave pending the investigation.

Lyoya is survived by two young daughters, five siblings and his parents.