Grand Rapids, MI – Grand Rapids police released four videos on Wednesday that captured the fatal officer-involved shooting of a suspect who fought with an officer and tried to gain control of his Taser during a traffic stop last week (videos below).
Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) Chief Eric Winstrom released the footage during a press conference on April 13.
Chief Winstrom said the April 4 shooting death of 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya is an “absolute tragedy” that has been devastating for the Lyoya’s family, the community, and the GRPD.
He said he wanted to release the videos “in the spirit of transparency,” and noted it is far too early to determine whether or not the officer involved acted in accordance with department policy.
The Michigan State Police (MSP) are handling the ongoing investigation.
The incident occurred at approximately 8:11 a.m. on April 4, when a seven-year veteran of the GRPD spotted a vehicle traveling westbound on Griggs Street with an improper Michigan registration, Chief Winstrom said.
The officer followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop on Nelson Avenue Southeast near Griggs Street Southeast.
Bodycam and dashcam footage showed the driver, later identified as Lyoya, as he immediately exited the vehicle after being pulled over.
The officer ordered him to stay in the car, but Lyoya ignored him.
The officer explained the reason for the stop and asked Lyoya for his driver’s license several times before the suspect opened the driver’s door and spoke briefly with a passenger inside the vehicle, the videos showed.
A moment later, Lyoya closed the door and started walking around the front of the car, at which point the officer stopped him as he tried to pull away.
Lyoya took off running during the ensuing confrontation, heading around the back end of the suspect vehicle before the officer tackled him on the lawn of a nearby home, the videos showed.
The lone officer repeatedly ordered the suspect to put his hands behind his back and to stop resisting, but Lyoya did not comply.
Chief Winstrom said the officer deployed his Taser twice during the struggle, but that the barbs went into the ground both times.
The officer repeatedly ordered Lyoya to stop resisting and to “let go of the Taser” the video showed.
Chief Winstrom said it appeared that the officer and the suspect both had a grip on the weapon for approximately 90 seconds as the fight continued.
Cellphone footage recorded by the passenger in Lyoya’s car showed the officer trying to keep the combative suspect on the ground during the brawl.
“Let go of the Taser! Drop the Taser!” the officer yelled multiple times.
The suspect and the officer were both on the ground fighting over the weapon when the officer drew his duty weapon, the video showed.
He fired a single round, striking Lyoya in the head, Chief Winstrom said.
The winded officer immediately rose to his feet, backed away, and radioed for help.
Chief Winstrom said he will not release the officer’s name unless he is criminally charged.
He said it is also too early to render judgement on whether or not the shooting was justified.
The chief also shut down claims being made that Lyoya had pulled over next to the curb because his vehicle was making noise and that the officer had pulled up behind him afterwards.
“It was a traffic stop,” he said.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on paid leave and “stripped of his police powers pending the outcome of this investigation,” Chief Winstrom said.
“I thank the public for their patience and understanding while waiting for the release of the video,” Chief Winstrom said prior to the release of the footage. “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 held a number of demonstrations denouncing the officer-involved shooting over the course of the past week, WXMI reported.
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.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
BREAKING: Video footage released by the Grand Rapids Police Department shows an officer shooting Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head. WARNING ⚠: The video contains strong language and graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised. pic.twitter.com/mBMoozMVcu
— FOX 17 (@FOX17) April 13, 2022