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Grand Rapids Preparing For Unrest Before Releasing Footage Of Fatal Police Shooting

Grand Rapids, MI – A barrier has been erected outside the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) ahead of the anticipated release of video footage from a fatal officer-involved shooting that occurred last week.

Protesters have held a number of demonstrations denouncing the April 4 officer-involved shooting of 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya, WXMI reported.

GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed on Tuesday that his department will release home surveillance footage, daschcam, bodycam, and a cell phone video from the incident at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, WZZM reported.

The chief said he will hold a press conference to provide context for the footage at that time.

The city set up concrete barriers on the sidewalk outside of GRPD headquarters on Tuesday in preparation for the release of the footage, WXMI reported.

A police spokesperson said Grand Rapids’ event staff is working to make sure any demonstrations or events connected with case remain peaceful, according to the news outlet.

“The barricades are a precaution,” the spokesperson said. “In order for the police department to maintain the safety of the public throughout the city, the building, which also houses the Grand Rapids 911 dispatch center operations, must be secure.”

The fatal officer-involved shooting occurred near Nelson Avenue and Griggs Street SE at approximately 8:10 a.m. on April 4, MLive reported.

According to Chief Winstrom, Lyoya ran from an officer during a traffic stop, then tried to fight him off when the officer caught up to him, WXMI reported.

Police said the officer shot Lyoya during the ensuing brawl.

Lyoya’s father, Peter Lyoya, disputed law enforcement’s account and said he has seen a video of the shooting, his interpreter told WXMI.

He said his son pulled over next to the curb because his vehicle was making noise, and that an officer pulled up behind him afterwards, according to MLive.

Peter Lyoya further claimed his son was lying face-down on the ground and that the officer shot him in the back of the head.

The investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting remains ongoing, WZZM reported.

“I thank the public for their patience and understanding while waiting for the release of the video,” Chief Winstrom said. “I intend to continue to be as forthright and transparent during the ongoing investigation which is under the control of the Michigan State Police.”

Protesters have demanded the officer who shot Lyoya be identified and arrested, MLive reported.

Although details pertaining to the case have not been released, Grand Rapids City Commissioner Joe Jones said everyone should be outraged over Lyoya’s death.

“If you’re not angry and you’re not grieving then I would probably question your humanity,” Jones declared during a City Commission meeting on Tuesday. “Angry because of the death of Patrick. Grieving because of the death of Patrick. Angry because of a system that’s broken. Angry because reform isn’t moving fast enough. And grieving because we’ve seen this movie before.”

Rapid City Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said during the meeting that the shooting could be a catalyst for change moving forward, MLive reported.

“Out of anger and passion, true change can happen,” Bliss said. “My heart aches like so many people in this community about this tragedy and it aches for the Lyoya family. It’s a horrible tragedy. I am very sorry for this tragedy. I am very sorry that a family is grieving the loss of their son, of a loved one.”

Protesters also vented their outrage over what they claimed was inaction by the city commissioners, MLive reported.

“I first want to say one thing: ‘We told you so,’” Royal Black Panther Party Grand Rapids Chairwoman Aly Bates said during the meeting on Tuesday. “So many local activists like myself came into these meetings injured, traumatized and brutalized by the Grand Rapids Police Department, warning you of the realities of ignoring police violence.”

“It should not take a black man being executed in our street in broad daylight for the city commission to notice that something is wrong!” Bates declared.

She further claimed that city employees have told her organization that “they know that the Grand Rapids Police Department is racist.”

Approximately 100 protesters marched through the streets on Tuesday demanding “justice” for Lyoya, MLive reported.

“It’s very apparent that GRPD and the city knows that the video will show the truth,” one demonstrator said. “Today, the city had barricades placed around the outside of the police station and areas along downtown. This is essentially an admission of guilt.”

Lyoya’s family has already retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them, WOOD reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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