Video Footage Shows Officer Kneeling On Back Of Unarmed Black Man Before Fatally Shooting Him

Patrick Lyoya, 26, was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids, Michigan, police officer on April 4.

Patrick Lyoya, 26, was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids, Michigan, police officer on April 4.
Grand Rapids Police Department

Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, released video footage on Wednesday afternoon showing a police officer fatally shooting a Black man earlier in the month — a killing that has generated several protests in the city.

Patrick Lyoya, 26 years old and a father of two, was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop on April 4. Police have not identified the specific reasons for the stop, but indicated Lyoya’s license plate was not registered to the vehicle he was driving at the time.

The video shows the officer, who has not been named, pinning Lyoya to the ground, face down, and shooting him in the back of the head. In the 90 seconds leading up to the shooting, Lyoya is seen at various points struggling with the officer, attempting to run away, and at one point trying to block the officer’s Taser weapon from being deployed on him. It’s unclear if it hit Lyoya.

Lyoya was not armed with a weapon during the encounter.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom announced the footage’s release to the public during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“I thank the public for their patience and understanding while waiting for the release of the video,” Winstrom said. “I intend to continue to be as forthright and transparent as possible during the ongoing Michigan State Police investigation, while maintaining my duty to protect the integrity of that investigation in the interests of justice and accountability.”

Lyoya’s family members said they viewed the footage of the shooting. They also dispute that police had any reason for engaging with the man, who they say had pulled over to a curb because his car was making noise.

The scenes unfold in four videos: the dashcam video from the officer’s cruiser, the officer’s bodycam footage, a home surveillance camera from a house across the street from the shooting, and from cellphone video recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car.

Only the cellphone video clearly shows the shooting; the officer’s body camera “deactivated” seconds before the shooting, according to police.

The bodycam video shows the officer arriving at the scene in a residential neighborhood as Lyoya stands outside of the car. The officer tells Lyoya to “stay in the car.” Lyoya responds, asking, “What did I do?”

“Dude, I’m stopping you,” the officer says to Lyoya.

Lyoya asks the officer what he is being stopped for. Without giving a reason, the officer asks Lyoya for his license. “Do you have a driver’s license? Do you speak English?” the officer asks him.

After Lyoya answers “yes,” the officer tells him that his license plate is not registered to the car. He asks again for Lyoya’s license. Lyoya opens the car door, steps back and says his driver’s license is “right there” while pointing inside of the car. Lyoya then closes the door and takes a few steps. The officer then moves behind him, grabbing his shoulders.

“Nope, nope, stop. Put your hands behind your back,” the officer says.

As the officer grabs Lyoya, there is a brief struggle before Lyoya pulls away from the officer, turns and runs down the street.

“We’ve got one running,” the officer can be heard saying. He then tackles Lyoya to the ground in front of a house across from where the stop was. The officer struggles with Lyoya and then grabs the man’s head. The officer slams Lyoya’s head to the grass twice, yelling “stop” while the officer is on top of him.

“OK, damn,” Lyoya says. The officer pulls out a Taser and Lyoya attempts to block it from it being used on him, pulling it toward the grass. The officer then tells him to “let go of the Taser.”

A cellphone video from another angle shows the officer on top of Lyoya. In the the video, the person recording on the cellphone can be heard telling the officer to stop. The officer is seen on top of Lyoya. After a struggle, the officer then reaches back to grab his gun, and a shot is fired.

“Get back!” the officer says to the person recording on their cellphone. The officer gets off of Lyoya and then tells the person recording to “get back” again. Lyoya is seen lying on the ground as more police sirens are heard in the distance.

Police Chief Winstrom said he met with Lyoya’s family on April 5. During a press conference, the police chief said the department “immediately” notified Michigan State Police who will be leading the investigation into the fatal encounter. Officers have identified at least one witness at the incident but said there “could be more.”

Demonstrations have taken place in Grand Rapids following the shooting, with family members calling for the footage of the incident to be made public. Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump joined a public forum about the killing in Grand Rapids Sunday calling for justice and transparency.

State police investigators have not yet interviewed the officer involved, who police say has been with the department since 2015. Grand Rapids Police policy requires an officer involved in a fatal shooting encounter to give their account to investigators within 72 hours of the incident.

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