Video footage has finally been released in the recent police shooting of an unarmed Black motorist in Michigan and confirms the officer shot him in the back of his head following a brief struggle over a misdemeanor traffic stop for unregistered license plates.
The city of Grand Rapids held a press conference Wednesday to release about 20 minutes of footage showing the killing of Patrick Lyoya on April 4. Grand Police Chief Eric Winstrom was joined by city officials to release a series of videos that all revealed different angles of the incident recorded by the unidentified officer’s dashcam, his bodycam, a cellphone and a neighbor’s home security camera.
The video footage was released following days of demands from Lyoya’s family and friends.
The cellphone video was recorded by a passenger in the car Lyoya was driving when he was pulled over and shows the moment when the officer shot the 26-year-old in the back of his head.
Taken together, the video footage shows Lyoya being pulled over on a rainy morning on a residential street lined with homes. Lyoya immediately got out of his car to confront the officer, who promptly told him to get back inside, something Lyoya did not do. Instead, he was shown engaging with the officer, who asked, “can you speak English?” in response to Lyoya’s Congolese accent.
The officer is shown initiating contact with Lyoya, who reacts by running away at a slow pace around the back of his car and onto the lawn of a home, where the officer managed to tackle him.
When the officer tries to pull out his Taser, Lyoya pushes it away while it was being deployed. The officer then yells at Lyoya numerous times to let the Taser go.
That’s why Lyoya tries to run away again, but the officer took him to the ground face-down, reached to his hip, grabbed his gun, and shot Lyoya in the back of his head with a single shot at point-blank range, executioner style.
It is important to note that Lyoya was at no point on the video seen initiating violence toward the officer.
The officer’s body camera was deactivated during the encounter, something Winstrom said can happen during a foot pursuit.
Unverified reports across social media Wednesday night identified the officer as being named Christopher Paul Schurr.
Winstrom, who began working as the Grand Rapids police chief on March 22 and hasn’t been on the job for a month, said the officer’s identity will only be revealed if there are criminal charges.
That leaves it up to Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Becker, who previously told CNN his office’s investigation was ongoing.
Michigan State Police is leading the investigation and will give its findings to Becker’s office.
Meanwhile, the officer who killed Lyoya was placed on paid leave.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has been retained by Lyoya’s family, said Lyoya got “a fatal bullet to the back of the head.” He demanded accountability.
“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 an email to NewsOne after the video footage was released. “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.”
He added: “We demand that the officer who killed Patrick not only be terminated for his use of excessive and fatal force, but be arrested and prosecuted for the violent killing of Patrick Lyoya.”
The video footage can be seen by clicking here. Be advised it is graphic in nature.
Winstrom was joined by Brandon Davis, the commissioner of Grand Rapids’ Office of Oversight and Public Accountability, who said he will work to being “accountability and transparency” to the process of seeking justice for the shooting.
Davis said it is now up to local prosecutors to decide whether to charge the officer.
“We will seek truth,” Davis said before Winstrom showed the videos.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.
The parents of Lyoya, who moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United States seven years ago, said they had already seen the dash and body camera video of the incident and want justice for their son.
A family spokesperson who also saw the dashcam footage previously said the officer shot Lyoya in the back of his head following a “lengthy struggle.”
Peter Lyoya, Patrick’s father, spoke to the outlet M-Live via his interpreter Israel Siku.
“I don’t know what to do because I am confused. I want justice for Patrick,” the elder Lyoya said. “I want people to see the way my son was killed. I want the entire world to see how my son was executed.”
Hundreds of supporters joined the Lyoya family as they marched in southeast Grand Rapids, urging officials to release the body camera and dash camera footage of the shooting to the public. The march came in response to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, who announced that he would not release video footage of the fatal exchange until after the investigation was complete.
According to KTVU, marchers reportedly shouted, “show the video!” and “we want the world to know” as they rallied in support of the family. Following the protest, attendees organized an emotional candlelight vigil for Patrick at the Center for Community Transformation.
A GoFundMe set up following the tragic shooting raised nearly $26,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
“Patrick was a father of 2 daughters and a big brother to 5 siblings,” Lyoya’s GoFundMe says. “Patrick loved playing soccer and spending time with his loved ones but now he can’t do that anymore. Help us raise money for his funeral. Anything helps!”