The police shooting of Patrick Lyoya is sparking renewed calls for policing reform in Michigan, including in the Legislature where state lawmakers are calling for action on a series of bills that have sat stagnant for nearly a year.
“Patrick Lyoya should still be alive. His mother and father and brothers should not be burying him. And we have the ability as lawmakers; as policymakers, we have the ability to change the circumstances around why these things are even happening,” State Sen. Erika Geiss (D–Taylor) said in an interview with FOX 17.
Geiss took that message to the Senate floor Wednesday, a day after the release of independent autopsy results showing Patrick Lyoya died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Grand Rapids police have not yet named the officer who fired the gun.
“We keep seeing it; we keep reliving the trauma; we keep nibbling around the edges of actual reform. But here in Michigan, we have this huge bill package in the judiciary committee that could address many of the issues that led to yet another unarmed Black man being inexcusably murdered at the hands of law enforcement,” Geiss added.
Abipartisan package of bills introduced last year has never left committee, sitting stagnant in the Repubican-led Senate. The dozen bills include measures covering a number of law enforcement issues.
One bill would establish de-escalation training standards for police, and another would put in place use of force policies that would include verbal warnings and exhaustion of alternatives before using deadly force.
- SB 474, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D–Southfield, to require Use of Force violations to be included in separation records maintained by MCOLES.
- SB 475, sponsored by Sen. Ken Horn, R–Frankenmuth, to allow MCOLES to revoke the license of an officer who used excessive force causing death or serious bodily harm.
- SB 476, sponsored by Sen. Jim Ananich, D–Flint, to ban the intentional disclosure of the identity of a person who made a misconduct complaint against a law enforcement officer.
- SB 477, sponsored by Sen. Adam Hollier, D–Detroit, to exempt a police union from representing a member in a disciplinary action if it is determined by the union that the grievance is without merit.
- SB 478, sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad, R–White Lake, to ban the use of the choke hold as a restraint method except to save a life.
- SB 479, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss, D–Taylor, to ban the use of “no-knock” warrants except in certain circumstances and better define “knock and enter” warrants.
- SB 480, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson, R–Holly, to establish an affirmative duty to intervene to prevent the excessive use of force by another officer and allow for disciplinary action for those who fail to do so.
- SB 482, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, D–Ann Arbor, to require training standards regarding de-escalation, implicit bias, and behavioral health be developed by MCOLES and require continuing education for law enforcement officers.
- SB 483, sponsored by Sen. Michael D. MacDonald, R–Macomb Township, to direct MCOLES to commission a study on the recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers to discover barriers to attracting and retaining high-quality individuals.
- SB 484, sponsored by Sen. Marshall Bullock, D–Detroit, to specifically include tampering with body cameras or intentionally turning off the camera for the purpose of interfering with an investigation or proceeding in the crime of tampering with evidence.
“We've got to work together. We've got to come together so that [police] are able to do their jobs with folks who are going to be in the right mind, follow procedures and not cause unnecessary harm in the process of doing their jobs,” Geiss added.
Geiss and several of her Democratic colleagues are calling for the bills to be put up for a vote, saying Lyoya's death “should be the last.”
“This one shouldn't even have happened, but it should be the last because here in the state of Michigan, we have the tools at our disposal in our hands to make meaningful change,” she added.
READ MORE: Michigan State University honors Patrick Lyoya with vigil