GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Last Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the Lyoya family to express her condolences.
Monday morning, she did it in person in a private meeting.
“She had tears come from her eyes,” Dorcas said through the family’s interpreter Israel Siku. Dorcas is Patrick's mother. “She shed tears and that was a very touching moment for [me] to see a mother express that kind of pain, when tears were coming. I see that she has the pain. She’s feeling the same pain like I’m feeling.”
The family is Congolese and speaks Swahili. Israel Siku, who is also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is their interpreter.
Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack was present at the meeting. He’s the co-chair of Gov. Whitmer’s Black Leadership Advisory Council and helped to facilitate the meeting.
“She definitely wanted people to know that since it’s under investigation she can’t make an opinion on it and take one side over the other,” Womack said. “But she just wanted to come out just to touch these parents to let them know she wanted to send her condolences at this time and give that to them in person because she understands the tragedy of losing your son.”
Two weeks ago, on Monday morning April 4, the Lyoya’s 26-year-old son Patrick was fatally shot by a GRPD officer near the intersection of Nelson and Griggs during a traffic stop, police said. His death ignited protests and caught national attention.
Well known civil rights attorney Ben Crump has taken on the case, alongside Ven Johnson. Rev. Al Sharpton is scheduled to do Patrick’s eulogy on Friday at the home-going service at Renaissance Church.
Peter Lyoya said he was grateful for their support.
“They’re really showing a big concern for the loss of my son. And they show that they brought unity,” Peter said through Siku. “That really has build me, touch me, and left a mark in my heart.”
Peter also said he’s grateful that the protests over the last few days have remained peaceful. He thanked the public for respecting the family's wishes.
“That’s why you can see his death is not causing trouble because he was a peaceful person,” Peter said. “That’s why things are not broken because himself Patrick he was a peaceful man.”