Demonstrations protesting the killing of Patrick Lyoya in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have been taking place every evening at 6 p.m., Lakyra Price-Sanders told the Militant in a phone interview April 29. “We’re continuing to do what we can to bring awareness to the case and get justice.” Marches have also taken place to Grand Rapids City Commission meetings and outside the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing.
Lyoya, a 26-year-old factory worker and refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed by police officer Christopher Schurr April 4 following a traffic stop. Schurr pulled him over, saying the license plate didn’t match the car Lyoya was driving. The young man, who was unarmed, tried to leave, and Schurr chased him.
As the Militant goes to press May 4 protesters gathered to mark the one-month anniversary where Lyoya died and marched to police headquarters, demanding that Schurr face criminal charges.
The cop tried to tackle Lyoya and fired his stun gun twice at close range. He eventually wrestled Lyoya to the ground, yelled for him to let go of the Taser, and then fired his gun at the back of Lyoya’s head. An autopsy confirmed he died from that shot.
Under pressure from protests, the Grand Rapids police department released videos of the shooting from the cop’s body camera and other sources April 13. Some 1,500 people attended Lyoya’s funeral April 22. A sign below the casket read, “It’s our right to live!” in English and Swahili. The case has drawn national attention. Relatives of Breonna Taylor, the emergency medical technician killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020, came.
The media has begun publicizing the fact that Lyoya had been arrested several times, mostly for traffic offenses, and had two open warrants out on him, one a domestic-abuse accusation three days earlier. His license had been revoked.
That’s irrelevant, Ven Johnson, an attorney for the Lyoya family, told the media. “The officer would not have had the opportunity to do a full search of my client’s criminal history,” he said. It also doesn’t matter why Lyoya ran, Johnson said, because police are not supposed to use deadly force because someone does not comply with their orders. Michigan police officials sent an initial investigation report to the Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker’s office April 28. Becker said he will start to review the report, but is waiting for more information before deciding whether to file charges against Schurr. In the meantime, the officer remains on paid leave.