SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - The family of Patrick Lyoya, the man shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids Police Officer earlier this month, held a press conference Thursday afternoon alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Ven Johnson.
Family members, Crump, and Johnson are all speaking just one day after Grand Rapids authorities released graphic video that showed the 26-year-old man being shot in the head after a traffic stop.
Patrick Lyoyla's father, Peter Lyoya (center), speaks through an interpreter on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Lyoya was shot to death on April 4 by a Grand Rapids Police Officer after the two fought as the officer pulled him over for a license plate violation. In video released by authorities, the officer can be heard explaining that he pulled Lyoya over because the license plate on the car he was driving belonged on a different car.
Crump spoke first, stating that the video was difficult to watch but clearly shows the officer's use of force was unjustifiable and unnecessary.
"This video was very difficult to watch because what you see in that video is unnecessary, unjustifiable excessive use of fatal force," he said. "You see a police officer escalate a minor traffic stop into a deadly execution."
In the video, Lyoya and the unnamed officer fought over a Taser before the officer pulled out his service weapon and shot him in the back of the head.
Lyoya, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was seeking a better life for himself, according to Crump.
Crump said the evidence is clear that Patrick was having a difficult time understanding the officer.
"When you think about what you witnessed in that video, you see a confused person in Patrick who never takes a violent act against a police officer. yet the police officer escalates and continues to escalate the situation from a traffic stop," Crump said. "It was a traffic stop."
Instead, he said there ware multiple things that Crump could have and should have done.
"This officer failed to follow the basic training when he engages Patrick. He goes and puts hands on him and when Patrick goes to walk away, he could have just stepped back and called for backup," Crump said. "He had the car, he had the passenger in the car. All he had to do was to call for backup and wait, and this matter could have ended so differently."
Instead, the officer pulled out his Taser and used it twice. When Lyoya had his hands on the Taser, the officer commanded him to drop it multiple times. But Crump said it was a natural instinct to reach out and grab the Taser when they were that close together and that kind of weapon can only be fired twice.
"Once you fire it twice, unless you have another cartridge to put in the taser, it is ineffective. Had the officer been paying attention to his training he would have known that that taser, because he had fired it twice, was rendered ineffective at that time," Crump said.
"There was no reason for him to have any intimate fear of the taser being used against him."
As the two scuffled, the officer repeatedly told Lyoya to let go of the taser. Winstrom said it appeared that the officer and Lyoya both had a hand on the taser for about 90 seconds.
A passenger who was with Lyoya was filming the encounter. As the officer told Lyoya to let go of the taser and stop resisting, the man filming kept saying, "He's good," and "He didn't grab no taser."
The officer continued telling Lyoya to let go off the taser as the office got him facedown. While on Lyoya's back, the officer pulled out his gun and shot Lyoya once in the head, video showed. Police Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed that Lyoya was shot in the head.
Michigan State Police investigators are now handling the case. The officer is on paid leave right now.
Crump said that's not nearly enough and wants the officer charged and prosecuted for Lyoya's death.
"We demand that the officer who killed Patrick not only be terminated for his use of excessive and fatal force, but be arrested and prosecuted for the violent killing of Patrick Lyoya."