FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
URBAN LEAGUE LEADERS: DASHCAM VIDEO RAISES DISTURBING QUESTIONS ABOUT INVESTIGATION INTO GRAND RAPIDS POLICE SHOOTING OF PATRICK LYOYA
NEW YORK and GRAND RAPIDS (April 14, 2022) -- National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial and Urban League of West Michigan President and CEO Eric Brown today said they are alarmed by video footage that appears to reveal an overreaction by a Grand Rapids Police officer and apparent inconsistencies in the initial description provided by Grand Rapids Police about the incident that resulted in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya.
“There is absolutely no reason this encounter should have turned deadly,” Morial said. “A problem with a vehicle tag is not a situation that posed any immediate danger to the officer or the community. Another tragic death of a young Black man at the hands of police comes down to an officer’s eagerness to escalate a non-violent encounter unnecessarily.”
Brown agreed, adding that the released video is confirmation of a gross mishandling of a triggering encounter of a Black man with police that quickly turned to an unnecessarily one-sided confrontation. These actions lead to unnecessary escalation of an already confusing situation instead of de-escalation.
“It’s unclear what even prompted the stop, other than blatant racial profiling,” Brown added. “How did the tag scanner detect an improper tag from the front in the first place?”
Morial and Brown said the video confirmed that what occurred after the officer’s initial communication resulted from a lack of respect for the cultural and language barriers Lyoya faced as a Congolese immigrant. Further, they share the Lyoya family’s dismay regarding the delay in releasing their son’s body so they could mourn him in dignity.
“Information withheld initially regarding the investigation, including the disturbing video footage, is troubling,” Brown said. “The initial police statement indicated that Patrick began fighting with the officer, which the video shows is not the case. Patrick clearly is frightened and confused and simply trying to avoid physical harm.”
Morial and Brown said Michigan State Police, who are investigating the shooting need to conduct the investigation with greater transparency if they expect their conclusion to be trusted.
“Tragedies like these only serve to erode the already damaged trust between police and the communities they are sworn to serve,” Morial said. “A thorough and transparent investigation is an opportunity to repair some of that damage.”