Woman carjacked at Warren gas station, $906M refunded under auto insurance policy, lawmaker's guilty OWI plea

Who was Patrick Lyoya? The man at the center of the latest high-profile police shooting between a white officer and a Black man was killed following a struggle with a Grand Rapids deputy in a neighborhood earlier this month.

During a press conference on Thursday, his parents Peter and Dorcas Lyoya spoke about their oldest son and everything they had done to give him opportunities.

Peter told the Associated Press he and his family escaped from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014 and immigrated to the United States. He said he was trying to escape violence but now fears they came here to die.

Patrick was 26, the oldest of Peter and Dorcas' six children. Peter said moving to the U.S. was supposed to bring peace and safety.

"I knew that if you met the police officer in America, that you would be safe. What is making me cry more is that my son has been killed by a police officer," Peter said during Thursday's press conference.

The Lyoya family spoke through an interpreter on Thursday. Dorcas fought to speak as emotions overtook her multiple times and said they thought they escaped an unsafe area where there was war in Congo.

"I’m really deeply hurt and wounded," she said. "I thought I came to a safe land. I need justice for my son."

Patrick, who has two young children of his own, worked at an auto parts factory in Grand Rapids and would visit his siblings in Lansing on weekends, his dad said.

Peter asked for justice for his son and for the police to release the officer's name. He said Patrick's brothers and sisters want to know who killed him and would like to see his picture so they can know "this is the person that took our beloved one."

The traffic stop was tense from the start. Video shows Lyoya getting out of the car before the officer approached. He ordered Lyoya to get back in the vehicle, but the man declined and asked why he was being pulled over.

The officer told him it was because of an issue with the license plate on the car. Then he asked Lyoya if he spoke English and demanded his driver's license. The foot chase began soon after, video shows.

Prosecutor Chris Becker will decide whether any charges are warranted but said the public shouldn't expect a quick decision. While the videos "are an important piece of evidence, they are not all of the evidence," he added.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom released four videos on Wednesday, nine days after Patrick was killed. The four videos were from the dashcam from the responding officer's car, the officer's bodycam, doorbell camera from a neighbor's home, and a cell phone video shot by a passenger in the car that Lyoya was driving.

The cell phone video was by far the most graphic and showed the struggle between the two men. 

The officer's body camera was turned off before the shooting, which happens when a button is pushed for three seconds, Winstrom said. He said it appears it was deactivated unintentionally due to body pressure during the struggle, but he would not discuss any officer statements about it.

"That will come out once the investigation's complete," Winstrom said on Wednesday.

The officer who shot Lyoya has not yet been named.

Woman in critical condition after being shot, carjacked at Warren gas station

A woman was struck by gunfire and had her car stolen while she was at a gas station in Warren early Friday morning. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition after a man reportedly tapped on the window of her car at one of the gas pumps before opening fire.

The incident happened around 4 a.m. According to Warren police, the woman was parked at pump No. 5 at a Sunoco gas station on Eight Mile between Ryan and Mound Road when a white Yukon pulled up behind her. 

The man got out, approached the vehicle and started firing, hitting the woman multiple times. Her car, a 2015 Nissan Altima with the license plate ELB3299 was stolen. Police say it fled westbound on Eight Mile Road. An investigation is ongoing and police are reviewing surveillance footage. The entire gas station has also been blocked off by police tape. 

The suspects are described as one white male and one Black male. If you have any information about the carjacking or the location of the stolen car, your'e asked to give Warren police a call. 

$906 million in Michigan auto insurance refund checks already distributed

Close to a third of the $3 billion in Michigan auto insurance refund checks have been distributed to eligible residents as of April 14, the governor said. Some $906 million have made its way into the bank accounts of car and truck owners who had their vehicles insured by Oct. 31, 2021. 

As is policy under the state's auto insurance reform legislation passed in 2019, residents in Michigan should receive $400 for every vehicle they had insured by that date. Car insurance companies will have until May 9 to deliver the remaining $2.1 billion.

"Thanks to our bipartisan auto insurance reform, Michigan drivers are receiving $400 refund checks per vehicle. Already, more than $906 million has been put back into the pockets of Michiganders and into our economy, and another $2.1 billion is on the way," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "We will continue working together to put Michigan drivers first. Keep an eye out for your $400 refund!"  

The money has to go through several stages before it lands in the bank accounts of drivers. After the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association decided on how much of its $5 billion surplus was to go back out to drivers, the funds needed to be sent to relevant auto insurance agencies by March 9.  From there, the insurance companies will have until May 9 to deposit the funds in driver's bank accounts - or send a check. 

Redford Democrat pleads guilty to operating while intoxicated

State lawmaker Mary Cavanagh pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated, Wednesday - a misdemeanor. A Livonia Police Department body camera was rolling when an officer stopped the Democrat Redford rep back in February. She was driving on two flat tires, struggled with sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol level of .17 more than twice the legal limit.

Cavanagh posted a mea culpa to her social media accounts Wednesday: "There is absolutely no excuse for my decision that night, and I am extremely grateful that no one was harmed, including myself." she said.

"This is something that she will live with, but she will use her story to inspire others to gain sobriety," said attorney Todd Perkins, Cavanagh’s lawyer. The state rep’s plea deal hinges on her admittance into and completion of a rigorous, year-long sobriety court program. "The purpose of it is to get you in shape mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually," Perkins said. "And you need all those faculties in your life and all those intangibles in your life to be working to ensure a life of sobriety."

Cavanagh helped create legislation allowing people to petition a judge to expunge their first-time drunk driving offenses. However, she won't benefit from it since this is her second guilty plea. 

Oxford parents, students want independent review of school safety plan

A group of Oxford parents and students is asking for an independent review of the school’s safety plan since the Nov. 30 mass shooting that killed four students. "I was in the hall right next to where it all went down," said student Griffen Jones. "He turned the corner and started shooting into the crowd."

Oxford High student Griffen Jones wants to make sure the tragedy from November 30th is never repeated again - and that he can feel safe while learning. "It’s like we already have to go back and re-live our worst nightmare every day," Jones said. "So it's real hard when it feels like my voice isn't being heard - no one's voice is being heard."

That’s a big part of what a group of parents and students - including Jones - want, transparency in how school officials plan to keep kids safe. This group is asking for specific things:

  • Determination of whether the safety plan was, and is being properly followed.
  • A new transparent process that uses student input to create an updated school safety plan for the 2022-2023 school year.
  • An independent expert review of the plan.

What else we're watching

  1. While scientists are still working to understand the mechanisms behind some of COVID-19's side effects, doctors do have some tips that could help with the symptom of brain fog. Check them out here.
  2. As it turns out, some of the bacteria in your dog's mouth may be deadly. A study found that some of the microbes are resistant to antibiotics.
  3. The Michigan State Treasurer is advising individuals this is the last weekend for taxpayers to file their state income taxes before the April 18 deadline. For more information about e-filing, go to www.mifastfile.org
  4. The first event of the 2022 event season in Wayne County's parks begins Friday with the 37th annual Marshmallow Drop. The show starts at 9 a.m. in Trenton and 11 a.m. in Westland.
  5. The family of the 14-year-old victim of the Oxford shooting in November has sued the school district and several officials, alleging they covered up culpability after the massacre. 

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Daily Forecast

The strong winds are gone from much of Metro Detroit but plan on some breezy conditions sticking around Friday. A high of 56 degrees with spotty showers and some clouds are anticipated for the day before conditions cool off even further over the weekend and into the next week.

1st COVID-19 breath test given emergency use authorization by FDA

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued an emergency use authorization for what it said is the first device that can detect COVID-19 in breath samples.

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, the FDA said, and can be used in doctor’s offices, hospitals and mobile testing sites. The test, which can provide results in less than three minutes, must be carried out under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.

Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, called the device "yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19."

The FDA said the device was 91.2% accurate at identifying positive test samples and 99.3% accurate at identifying negative test samples.

"InspectIR expects to be able to produce approximately 100 instruments per week, which can each be used to evaluate approximately 160 samples per day," the agency said. "At this level of production, testing capacity using the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is expected to increase by approximately 64,000 samples per month."