Thursday, July 7

Another death of a young black man at the hands of a white police officer sparks protests in the US


  • Patrick Lyoya, 26, was unarmed and on the ground when he was shot in the head after a struggle with an officer

  • Tension soars in Michigan following the release of videos of the fatal encounter at a traffic stop on April 4

A traffic stop by a minor offense. An unarmed young black man. An white cop. several minutes of struggleincluding with the tasers of the agent and, shortly after, when the black man was on the ground and the police officer on top of him, a shot was fired. The shot in the back of the head from Patrick Lyoya ended the life of this refugee who arrived in the United States in 2014 with his family fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It happened around 8 a.m. April 4he in Grand Rapids, Mich.but it has been this Wednesday when the authorities have made public four videos of the fatal encounter. Immediately he has rekindled the flame of indignation that toured the United States after the murder of George Floyd almost two years ago now and have been recorded protests in the midwest city of 200,000.

Agent on leave paid and without charges

In the previous days, several hundred people had taken to the streets of Grand Rapids to ask for Justice and demand that the name of the agent involved in the incident. This one, who entered the police force in 2015, was put in a paid administrative leave after what happened and has not been charged with no charge. The event is being investigated by the state police, which upon completion of their investigations will transfer them to the prosecutor’s office, which is the one that will determine if there are charges.

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Although the prosecutor last week requested that the videos not be made public until that investigation is completed, the City Police Chief Eric Winstromwho has only been in office for 37 days, decided not to wait.

The facts

In the videos made public this Wednesday, which were recorded by the police car camerawhich the agent He had on him (which he stopped recording at one point during the struggle), the security guard of a Houseas well as with a mobile phone By a man accompanying Lyoya in the vehicle, the agent is seen stopping a car that was driving on a rainy morning through a residential neighborhood in southeastern Grand Rapids.

Lyola got out of the car and the agent urged her to go back inside. Apparently confusedLyola asked what she had done wrong. The policeman, who at one point he asked if he spoke englishexplained that the license plate did not match the vehicle, a minor offenseand asked for the license.

Lyola then opened the car door and asked the person inside for those papers. At one point she closed the door and started to walk to the other side of the car, and the policeman then went to grab her, at which point Lyoya he tried to get away and started running.

The agent caught up with him and they began a struggle, in which the policeman shouted a couple of times to stop resisting. At one point the agent took out his tasers and in the images Lyoya is seen grabbing that device, apparently to avoid the electric shock. Later Lyola ended up lying on the ground, with the agent on his back. At that moment, the agent yelled a couple of times to drop the taser, although the images do not clearly show if he had it in his hand or if he represented a risk to the police. Then, the agent shot Lyoya in the back of the head with his service weapon.

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“The video clearly shows that it was a use of fatal, excessive and unnecessary force against an unarmed black man who was confused by the encounter (with the officer) and terrified for his life,” he said in a statement. benjamin crumpthe lawyer who represented the family of George Floyd and that he has also assumed the representation of Lyoya’s family. Crump, who will give a press conference this Thursday, also stressed that “Patrick never used violence against the agent although the police did use violence against him on several occasions for what was a traffic stop for an infraction.”

The local authorities, for their part, have lamented what happened as a “awful tragedy”. That is the expression used in a statement by the mayoress of Grand Rapids, Rosalynn Bliss, who was present but did not speak at the press conference on Wednesday.

Yes, he intervened in that appearance City Manager, Mark Washington. “Our city has joined the list of cities in the country where an African American has died as a result of the use of force in an interaction with law enforcement,” said the black official, who showed the city’s commitment “to operate with full transparency and be accountable to ensure that justice is imposed.”

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The state governor Gretchen Whitmer It also issued a statement showing its condolences to Lyoya’s family, who had two daughters and five brothers. The Democrat, who spoke of “unimaginable pain and loss,” He called for the protests to be “peaceful.”

a widespread problem

The Lyoya case, however, revives the tensions over the excessive use of police force in encounters with citizens, especially blacks. According to a database maintained by ‘The Washington Post’, On-duty officers have fatally shot more than 250 people so far this year. An investigation published last fall by ‘The New York Times’ also revealed that five years previous US agents killed more than 400 drivers that they did not have guns or knives nor were they being persecuted for violent crimes. The newspaper also found that both police culture and court precedent often significantly exaggerate the risk officers face at traffic stops.

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