Grand Rapids Police Release Video Of Officer Fatally Shooting Unarmed Black Man
Hours after the NYPD and Mayor Eric Adams celebrated the capture of Frank James, the suspected shooter in Tuesday’s brutal mass shooting (which, thankfully, hasn’t resulted in any deaths, although a pregnant woman and a young child are among the victims), police in Grand Rapids, Michigan have just released footage of a police officer shooting a 26-year-old unarmed black man.
According to an NYT report, while the victim in the shooting was unarmed, video footage appeared to show the two men wrestling for control of the officer’s taser before the officer – who was not named – shot the young man, 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, in the head.
The shooting has been a major local story even before the release of the footage, with the NYT saying it exposed “longstanding tensions in Grand Rapids” (as these types of officer-involved shootings have a habit of doing).
In a city of about 200,000 people, 18% of Grand Rapids residents are Black. Activists aired their frustration and grief on Tuesday night during a City Commission meeting, speaking for hours about what they described as years of inaction and abuse by police.
The investigation into the officer’s actions was ongoing, officials said on Wednesday, and no charging decision had been made. Chief Eric Winstrom of the Grand Rapids police said he was not aware of any weapons other than the officer’s gun and Taser being found at the scene. Police body camera video shows the officer telling Mr. Lyoya that he is pulling him over because his license plates do not match his car.
The victim’s family has already retained Ben Crump, the same lawyer who represent the family of George Floyd, to represent them in what’s expected to be legal action against the city.
Officials said that the police officer who fired the fatal shot joined the department in 2015. Lyoya immigrated to the US from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 and had lived in Grand Rapids for about five years.
“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,” Mr. Crump said. He called for the officer to be fired and prosecuted.
Already, it seems tensions are simmering in Grand Rapids. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has expressed sympathy for the family and called for any protests to be peaceful. As for whether there will be any protests – local or national – that remains to be seen.
But the real question is: after the events of this past week, are the police now ‘the bad guys’ again?
Wed, 04/13/2022 – 19:40