Michigan police have released bodycam footage of a black man being fatally shot in the back of his head by a white police officer during a traffic stop that went violent. The chilling bodycam footage released by police on Wednesday shows Patrick Lyoya, 26, facedown on the ground as he is fatally shot by the officer in Grand Rapids earlier this month.
The violent incident now has spurred renewed calls for action to stop deadly police violence against Black people in the United States. The officer has not been named and is yet to be charged and is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
Lyoya, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was shot and killed outside his home on April 4. The video shows the white cop repeatedly ordering Lyoya to "let go" of his Taser, yelling, "Drop the Taser!" at one point.
The city's new police chief, Eric Winstrom, cited a need for transparency, while releasing four videos, including vital footage of the incident captured by a passenger in Lyoya's car on that wet morning.
The newly released tape also depicts the events leading up to the shooting, such as a traffic stop based on concerns about Lyoya's license plate, which resulted in a brief foot chase and a scuffle over the cop's Taser.
The video beings with a tense environment from the moment Lyoya's car is stopped.
Lyoya, a native of Democratic Republic of Congo, is seen stepping out of his vehicle on a rainy Griggs and Nelson SE street, looking puzzled and asking, "What did I do?" as the officer repeatedly demands for his driver's license and forces him back into the vehicle.
The police wanted his driver's license after asking if he knew English. Lyoya says that he known English but then he shuts the door, turns his back to the officer and appears to walk away. The foot chase begins shortly after, the video shows.
"No, no, no, stop, stop," the officer can be heard ordering Lyoya, and puts his hands on his shoulder.
However, he doesn't listen and is seen resisting and then starts running until he is tackled by the White officer. The video then shows Lyoya and the cop fighting in front of several houses, with Lyoya's passenger watching.
The cop repeatedly tells Lyoya to "let go" of his Taser, even demanding, "Drop the Taser!" at one point. It's unclear from any of the videos whether Lyoya tried to take the cop's Taser or when he did, but the cop can be heard yelling at him to leave grip of the device, which was used twice but didn't hit anyone, according to officials.
The officer's body camera abruptly switches off at this point. Winstrom indicated that turning off the body camera requires pressing a button for three seconds, and he believes the deactivation was triggered by Lyoya's body pressure.
However, additional video from a neighbor's doorbell security system, the officer's vehicle's dashcam, and a bystander's cellphone captures different perspectives of the incident. The tussle over the Taser, according to Winstrom, lasted around 90 seconds. The cop was on top of Lyoya in the dying seconds, kneeling on his back at times to control him.
Police Brutality Continues
Following that Lyoya was shot dead. The sound of the cop shooting Lyoya in the back of the head was captured on audio from a nearby house surveillance camera.
Police belive the taser was applied twice before Lyoya was finally shot in the back of his bead. "From my view of the video, Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact," Winstrom told reporters. "And Mr Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that's the only information that I have."
The shooting is being investigated by state police. Dr. Stephen Cohle, Kent County's chief medical examiner, said the autopsy was done but toxicology tests had not yet been completed.
Winstrom has not named the officer, but he has confirmed that he is on paid leave while the investigation is underway. "Me being from Chicago for the last 20 years, I've handled many police shootings myself, so I do have a lot of experience in this," the chief said. "I was hoping to never have to utilize that experience here."
Chris Becker, the prosecutor, who would decide whether charges are necessary, objected to Winstrom's release, but indicated he may act on his own. The public should not expect a rapid resolution, Becker said.
"While the videos released today are an important piece of evidence, they are not all of the evidence," he said.
Following the release of the recordings, dozens of protestors gathered in the city to demonstrate against the surge in police violence against black men in the United States. The demonstrators waved "Black Lives Matter" signs and chanted "no justice, no peace."
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke with Lyoya's family, said he had two young daughters and five siblings.