Demonstrators call for the arrest of cop who killed an unarmed Black man in Michigan
DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:
In Grand Rapids, Mich., demonstrators are gathering again this evening to protest a white police officer's killing of a Black resident during a traffic stop. The shooting happened 10 days ago, but police just yesterday released video footage of the shooting. Twenty-six-year-old Patrick Lyoya was a refugee who fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo with his family. Today, they spoke out against the shooting, calling for the officer's arrest.
Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio has this report. And just a warning - it contains audio from the moments before Lyoya's death.
DUSTIN DWYER, BYLINE: This afternoon, Dorcas Lyoya, Patrick Lyoya's mother, stood inside a church, her cheeks wet with tears, trying to describe what it was like seeing her son killed by a police officer. She spoke through a translator, and she said her family fled to the United States to escape war.
DORCAS LYOYA: (Through interpreter) And I thought that I came to a safe land, having a safe place. And I start thinking now I'm surprised and astonished to see that my son, it's here that my son has been killed with a bullet.
DWYER: The family is calling the killing an execution, and they want criminal charges to be filed. In the videos of the shooting released by Grand Rapids police yesterday, you see Lyoya get out of his car after being pulled over by a police officer for an incorrect license plate. Lyoya stands outside his vehicle, looking confused.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PATRICK LYOYA: What did I do wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: The plate doesn't belong on this car. Do you have a license or no?
DWYER: Lyoya asks the car passenger to look for his wallet. Then he tries to walk away. It's not entirely clear how much he understands the officer.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: No, no, no. Stop. Stop. Put your hands on your head (ph).
DWYER: The officer tries to grab him, and Lyoya runs. The officer chases and tries to tackle him. They struggle for more than a minute. And at one point, you see the officer try to Tase Lyoya, and Lyoya grabs the barrel of the Taser in his hand. Then with Lyoya on the ground facing down and the officer on top, the officer reaches for his gun and shoots at the back of Lyoya's head, killing him.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said during a press conference Wednesday that the shooting is still being investigated by the Michigan State Police, and he's not yet willing to draw any conclusions about what the videos show.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
ERIC WINSTROM: There's a lot of factors. There is what happened before, how the stop - how did the - you know, why the foot pursuit - there's what happens after, when CPR was started. I've been asking about that. How long did the body stay on scene? So there's a range of questions. I don't have all those answers because this is not a Grand Rapids Police Department investigation.
DWYER: And while that external investigation continues, there's another thing Winstrom says he won't do. He won't name the officer who pulled the trigger. That's despite calls from Lyoya's family to do just that, calls that are echoed by the protesters marching in the streets of Grand Rapids.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Patrick.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Patrick.
DWYER: For NPR News, I'm Dustin Dwyer in Grand Rapids, Mich. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.