US police release videos of officer fatally shooting Black man

Family of Patrick Lyoya demands justice after the 26-year-old was shot dead by a Michigan officer this month.

Grand Rapids officials at a press conference.
Officials in Grand Rapids, Michigan, released footage of the fatal police shooting of Patrick Lyoya, 26, following a traffic stop [Bill Pugliano/Getty Images via AFP]

Police in the US state of Michigan have released video footage of an officer fatally shooting a 26-year-old Black man in the head, in an incident that has spurred renewed calls for action to stop deadly police violence against Black people in the United States.

Patrick Lyoya, 26, was shot dead on April 4 outside a house in Grand Rapids, a city of about 200,000 residents that is 240km (150 miles) northwest of Detroit, Michigan, following a traffic stop.

Citing a need for transparency, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom released videos of the shooting on Wednesday, including critical footage recorded by a passenger in Lyoya’s car on that rainy morning.

Footage shows Lyoya running from the officer who stopped him for driving with a licence plate that did not belong to the vehicle. They struggled in front of several homes while Lyoya’s passenger got out and watched.

The police officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to “let go” of his Taser, at one point demanding: “Drop the Taser!”

Winstrom said the fight over the Taser lasted about 90 seconds. In the final moments, the officer was on top of Lyoya, kneeling on his back at times to subdue him.

“From my view of the video, Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact,” Winstrom told reporters on Wednesday. “And Mr Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that’s the only information that I have.”

Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Chicago, said footage showing Lyoya being shot in the back of the head has spurred “outrage” from the man’s family.

“It is clear from the video that there is a lengthy struggle between the officer and Lyoya. The officer has pulled Lyoya over because, according to the officer on the tape, the license plate on the car did not match the car,” Hendren said.

“He asks Lyoya to get back in the car because he has stepped out … Lyoya does not respond, doesn’t get back in the car and appears not to understand what the officer is saying.”

The deadly incident comes amid a nationwide reckoning over police violence against Black people in the US, which has seen mass Black Lives Matter protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

“Another Black man has died at the hands of police, and the officer in this video has got to be held accountable,” the NAACP, a prominent civil rights group, said in a written statement on Wednesday in response to the Michigan video.

“President Biden, sign the police reform executive order now. While we fully understand an executive order is not a substitute for meaningful legislation, we must do everything in our power to protect our community,” the NAACP said.

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump also condemned Lyoya’s killing as “unjustified”.

“We DEMAND that the officer who killed Patrick not only be terminated for his excessive and fatal force, but be arrested and prosecuted for his violent, reckless, and unjustified killing of this Black man during a misdemeanor traffic stop!” Crump tweeted.

Grand Rapids police officials have placed the officer, who has not been named publicly, on administrative leave and have asked the Michigan State Police to investigate the shooting.

Prosecutors in Kent County told CNN on Wednesday that they will make a decision on possible criminal charges once the investigation is complete.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies