Calls to release unedited dashcam video of the fatal police shooting of a Black man in Michigan intensified over the weekend, with law enforcement officials promising to release the video by Friday.
Patrick Lyoya, 26, was killed after he was pulled over by a Grand Rapids police officer on April 4 over an unregistered license plate, Police Chief Eric Winstrom said at a news conference the same day.
Winstrom said Lyoya got out of his car, briefly ran away and was fatally shot after a “lengthy struggle.”
His family disputes that account, saying they viewed video of the encounter that showed Lyoya facedown on the ground when he was shot in the back of the head.
“I saw the video. I could not sleep. The boy was on the floor. The cop was on his knees, pulled out the gun and shot him in the head,” Israel Siku, the Lyoya family’s interpreter, said Sunday at a community forum at Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids. The family’s native language is Swahili.
Lyoya immigrated with his family to the US in 2014 from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, reported MLive, the website of a family of Michigan newspapers.
Siku, who along with Lyoya’s father was shown dashcam video, described the shooting as “execution style.”
In an interview Monday, Siku said the family is “still grieving, confused and heartbroken,” adding that Lyoya’s mother is “in complete shock.”
Lyoya leaves behind two children under 2 years old.
The officer, who is white and has been with the department since 2015, was placed on administrative duty as Michigan State Police investigated, Winstrom said. The officer’s name has not been released.
Winstrom said in a statement Friday that he would release the video “no later than noon on Friday, April 15.”
Winstrom’s promise puts him at odds with Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, who is asking the department to hold the video until the state police investigation is complete.
“There are still many questions which remain unanswered. As is our policy with any ongoing investigation, we do not release any material for public consumption. To maintain the integrity of this investigation, I have requested that involved police agencies do not release any evidence until the investigation is complete,” Becker said in a statement. “While I am committed to the transparency of the process, I also must follow legal and ethical duties to ensure the integrity of the investigation by ensuring that information regarding the event that could compromise the investigation is not released.”
The officer who shot Lyoya had still not been interviewed by Michigan state police as of Monday morning because his attorney has been unavailable, a spokesman for the state police said in a statement.
Lyoya’s family and community members demanded that the video be released at a protest hundreds attended Saturday.
The family is represented by national civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has also represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Crump said at a community forum over the weekend: “Every Black family lives in fear that a routine traffic stop will turn deadly. Patrick’s fate is the nightmare we live with every day.”
I have echoed demands to release the dashcam video.
“It is essential that all video evidence be made public as soon as possible so that we can see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears what happened to Patrick. Full transparency is the only way to regain community trust.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism