Patrick Lyoya was in the middle of a good in place in life, restarting his journey with his refugee family from Democratic Republic of Congo.
Coming from a past that included some run-ins with the law, Lyoya’s family and close friends say he was always trying to help people.
The life of the 26-year-old, a father of two young children, came to a tragic end April 4 during a struggle with a Grand Rapids police officer. He was pulled over for a license plate discrepancy that ended with him being shot in the back of the head. According to the footage, Lyoya got out the car and the officer ordered him to get back in, but he didn’t.
What Happened On That Fateful Day
“Do you have a license?” the officer asked.
“For what?” Lyoya responds, seemingly a bit confused and perhaps a slight language barrier, as Lyoya is a foreigner. Next, Lyoya tells the officer his license is in the car. He says a few words to the person in the passenger side seat; before getting out the vehicle and walking toward the front of the vehicle.
“No, no, no, stop, stop”, the officer can be heard yelling on the bodycam footage, as he grabs Lyoya on the shoulder. After that, Lyoya takes off running before the cop tackles him to the ground, and the two begin a struggle. Moreover, the cop continues to ask him to stop resisting. However, after more than a minute, the officer pulled out his taser, while the refugee puts his hand on the weapon as it’s going off. The officer yells for him to let go, before the officer turned off his bodycam.
A Kent County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report released May 6 showed that Lyoya’s blood alcohol content was 0.29 during the fatal encounter with Grand Rapids Police Officer Christopher Schurr. That’s more than three times the legal limit for driving a vehicle. But it did not warrant his death, when the officer shot him in the back of the head.
All you have to do is put yourself in this poor man’s position. If it was your loved one, would you want to hear from the prosecutor what the actual answer is? And the answer is ‘hell yes.’ Pardon my language, but at the very least, Mr. Becker, would you pick up the phone and call me?” said attorney Ven Johnson.
The killing of Patrick Lyoya and the subsequent release of videos showing the encounter attracted national attention.