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A Family in Mourning: The Community's Response to the Death of Patrick Lyoya

In the wake of the shooting of Patrick Lyoya by a GRPD officer, the community rallies for justice
Protestors marching in honor of Patrick Lyoya.

Protestors marching in honor of Patrick Lyoya. /PPWIII

Over the weekend, members of the community rallied behind the family of Patrick Lyoya to demand justice after he was shot and killed by a GRPD officer last Monday.

On the morning of April 4, 2022, the Grand Rapids Police Department and the City of Grand Rapids sent out a press release announcing that one person had died after a traffic stop escalated into an officer-involved shooting. The deceased was identified as 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, a Congolese refugee. As of Tuesday, April 12, the name of the GRPD officer involved has not been released. The case was passed on to the Michigan State Police per standard GRPD protocol. Members of the community immediately began calling for the release of the officer's bodycam and vehicle footage, as well as the release of videos recorded by witnesses. 

On April 9, hundreds of demonstrators including Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack and members of the Lyoya family gathered in the Boston Square neighborhood of Grand Rapids. Many of the protestors held signs calling for action, accountability, and transparency from the Grand Rapids Police Department and the Michigan State Police. Others wove flags representing social movements such as Black Lives Matter and the American Indian Movement (AIM). Chants of "Justice for Patrick," "Prosecute the Police," and "No Justice, No Peace" could be heard as the procession marched from Amplify GR, a local nonprofit, to the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation. There, a candelight vigil was held in Patrick Lyoya's honor. 

The following Sunday, Commissioner Womack organized a forum called "A Community Conversation" that took place at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ Family Life Center. The event featured a number of guest speakers, including:

  • Brandon Davis of the Grand Rapids Office of Oversight and Accountability
  • Cle Jackson, President of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP
  • Pastor Israel of the Congolese Community
  • Members of the Lyoya family
  • Local pastors

Ben Crump, a renowned personal injury and civil rights attorney who represented the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, also spoke at the forum. He has since been retained by the Lyoya family as they continue push for justice and the release of the officer's bodycam footage. In a statement released on Twitter on April 11, Attorney Crump stated that:

 "From what Patrick's father has expressed after viewing the body camera footage, we believe that the release of the footage will show the true and raw narrative of how Patrick lost his life to police. We will continue to push for the public release of the footage from this incident and full transparency from Michigan State Police as they continue to investigate this tragic incident."

Last week, Christopher Becker, the Kent County Prosecuting Attorney, asked that the footage not be released until the Michigan State Police had finished their investigation. However, Chief Eric Winstrom of the GRPD has reaffirmed his intention to release the video this week. "In keeping with my commitment to transparency and my stated intention to release the April 4 critical incident video by the end of this week, the Grand Rapids Police Department will issue several sources of video tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, April 13," he said in a Tuesday statement. "I thank the public for their patience and understanding while waiting for the release of the video. I intend to continue to be as forthright and transparent during the ongoing investigation which is under the control of the Michigan State Police."

On Tuesday, April 12, concrete barriers were put into place around the downtown GRPD Headquarters on Monroe Center Street. The reason for their installation has not yet been confirmed by the City of Grand Rapids. 

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