GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Wednesday afternoon, the Grand Rapids Police Department released videos of the deadly officer-involved shooting that killed Patrick Lyoya on April 4.
Thursday, National Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump flew back into town and held a press conference at Renaissance Church about the videos and continued his calls for police accountability, transparency and justice.
“It was a traffic stop,” Crump said. “Think about it. This wasn't a felony offense. This wasn't even a moving violation. It was a tag, an inappropriate tag allegedly. I mean, when you think about all the things he could have done to avoid shooting Patrick in the back of the head....”
Crump stood next to Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack and thanked him for his determination to help the family.
Police said on the morning of Monday, April 4, Patrick was pulled over near the intersection of Nelson and Griggs. A few minutes after he stepped out of the vehicle, he began to run away.
A struggle ensued, they said, and the officer deployed his taser before fatally shooting him.
READ MORE: Shooting death of Patrick Lyoya: a timeline of events
“I don’t know what to do. I cannot stop myself from crying,” said Dorcas Lyoya, Patrick's mother, through the family's interpreter Israel Siku. “All the mother here, if you’re a mother, you know the pain you go through to give birth to a child. I was thinking maybe it was my son [who would've] bury me, or will assist my funeral. But what is so astonishing, I am the one burying my son.”
The Lyoyas are Congolese and speak Swahili. They immigrated to the United States seven years ago, they said, fleeing war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Siku is the main interpreter for the Congolese community in West Michigan. He’s also the family spokesman.
“My heart is really deeply broken,” said father Peter Lyoya through Siku. “I didn’t believe in this country that there was genocide in this country. I didn’t know. I didn’t know here in America there can be an execution style to kill someone, to kill someone with a gun, and to be killed by the police officer.”
Ven Johnson of Ven Johnson Law has joined Lyoya’s legal team. He said they’re hoping Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker will bring charges in the case. If not, they’ll be asking Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to step in.
“Injustice anywhere leads to injustice everywhere,” Johnson said quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Ladies and gentlemen, on Monday shortly after 8 a.m., when many of us were enjoying our morning coffee at work, on the way to work, dropping kids off at school, whatever you were doing, Patrick was dying.”
At this comment, Siku broke down in tears.
READ MORE: Use of force expert gives perspective on Patrick Lyoya shooting videos
He took a minute to cry and breathe. Then he continued interpreting.
“We’ve already hired experts, police-misconduct experts, forensic pathology experts,” Johnson said. “And they’re going to tell you the same thing I just told you: you cannot be in immediate fear for your life when you’re on top.”
Attorneys Ayanna Hatchett, who runs the Civil Rights Department at Johnson Law, and Robin McCoy, president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, are also a part of the legal team. They vowed their support to bring the Lyoya family justice.
Also in attendance was Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. Her daughter was shot and killed by Louisville police in March 2020 during a botched raid at her home.
She comforted Dorcas and hugged her whenever she cried. She also spoke to FOX 17 after the press event and said she too hopes for justice for Patrick.
“I know what it feels like to be them," Palmer said. "This being where Breonna was born and raised, it was personal connection."
Crump noted that both Breonna and Patrick were the same age when they died: 26 years old.
When Palmer was invited to the event, she said she couldn't think of a better place to be and she wants the mother to know she'll always be there to comfort her.
“There will always be people like me who are willing to support her, come stand with her, cry with her, anything she needs," Palmer said. "We hate to welcome her into this club. It is really hard but we’ll forever support her.”
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