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Protesters carrying a Black Lives Matter flag in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Protesters shouted "no justice, no peace" after the police released footage of the violent incidentImage: Daniel Shular/The Grand Rapids Press/AP Photo/picture alliance

US: Protests in Michigan after police kill Black man

April 14, 2022

Protesters have called for the naming of the white police officer who killed Patrick Lyoya. It comes after police release footage showing the officer shoot the him in the head.

https://p.dw.com/p/49vQV

Protesters gathered in the city of Grand Rapids in the US state of Michigan on Wednesday evening after police released footage of the killing of a Black man by a white police officer.

The officer, who has not been named, shot Patrick Lyoya in the head following a traffic stop on April 4.

The new footage of the incident shows the officer lying on top of Lyoya as the two men appear to struggle. The video also shows the white officer shooting the 26-year-old Black man in the head.

In response, several hundred protesters, some carrying "Black Lives Matter" signs, gathered outside the Police Department. They demanded police release the name of the officer who fatally shot Lyoya.

A still from the body cam footage during the traffic stop showing Patrick Lyoya before he was killed
The shooting took place outside Patrick Lyoya's houseImage: Grand Rapids Police/REUTERS

Killing is a 'tragedy'

The officer initially stopped Lyoya for driving with license plates that did not belong to the vehicle.

One of the videos shows the man running from the officer before they start struggling on the floor. Grand Rapids' new chief of police, Eric Winstrom, said the two men had been fighting over the officer's taser.

Winstrom said he had released the footage of the incident for the sake of transparency.

"I view it as a tragedy. ... It was a progression of sadness for me," Winstrom said.

Lyoya, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, left behind two young daughters and five siblings.

"He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him,'' Michigan's Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer said after speaking to Lyoya's family.

Police violence

The officer behind the shooting, a seven-year veteran, has been put on paid leave.

"The video clearly shows that this was an unnecessary, excessive, and fatal use of force against an unarmed Black man who was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life," prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement on behalf of the family.

Crump has called for the officer in question to be fired and prosecuted.

Police violence against Black people in the US has gained more serious attention in recent years, especially following the killing of George Floyd by police officer Derrick Chauvin in 2020.

That incident sparked some of the biggest protests in modern US history and eventually spread worldwide.

It is also not the first time that Grand Rapids has been involved in racialized police violence. The city was the birthplace Breonna Taylor who was killed by police, also in 2020, during a botched police raid.

The city has since renamed one of its downtown streets to Breonna Taylor Way.

Breonna Taylor movement

ab/msh (AP, AFP)

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