‘A traffic stop should never be a death sentence’: Grand Rapids protesters demand action

Case has been turned over to Michigan State Police

DETROIT – Hundreds of protesters were gathered outside the Grand Rapids Police Department Wednesday (April 13) afternoon, demanding justice in the case of an officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya.

The case is now gaining national attention and has been turned over to Michigan State Police.

There are multiple videos from different camera angles, witnesses who need to be interviewed, and the physical back and forth between the officer and Lyoya.

After 8 a.m. on April 4, a seven-year veteran of the Grand Rapids Police Department, who the GRPD is not identifying, pulls Lyoya over for having the wrong license plate on his vehicle.

Lyoya, a Congolese immigrant, exits the car and doesn’t follow the officer’s orders to stay in the vehicle. Lyoya tries to run, and a chase and struggle ensue for two minutes.

There is no backup.

Read: ‘The deep pain that too many have felt’: Michigan leaders release statements in fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya

Police say Lyoya has his hands on the officer’s taser; in the last frames of the video seen in the video player above, you can see the officer on top of Lyoya.

The officer then pulls his firearm and shoots Lyoya once in the back of the head, ultimately killing him.

“It is an absolute tragedy,” said Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s been a difficult time internally for the police department.”

“Unfortunately, I am here today because our city is now added to the list of cities across the country where another African American man has died as a result of lethal force with the interaction of law enforcement,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington.

As demonstrators gathered in Grand Rapids Wednesday, longtime community leaders in Metro Detroit like Teferi Brent watched the multitude of videos and saw a situation that never had to escalate.

“No one should die,” said Brent. “A traffic stop should never be a death sentence.”

Former Detroit Deputy Chief Steve Dolunt sees a tragedy.

“It shouldn’t have happened, but it did,” said Dolunt. “You got to wonder the state of mind of the victim who died and the state of the mind of the officer.”

Both the governor and the Legislative Black Caucus are calling for a full investigation.

“We need better policies around police reform, but they need justice for the loss of Patrick,” said Senator Erika Geiss.

Winstrom said that according to the department’s review of the initial situation, it appears the officer tried to use his taser twice before that fatal shot with the firearm was used.

About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.