GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (FOX 2) – The family of Patrick Lyoya is in deep mourning after the 26-year-old man was shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids police officer on April 4.
During a press conference on Thursday, Peter and Dorcas Lyoya spoke about their oldest son and everything they had done to give him opportunities.
Peter told the Associated Press he and his family escaped from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2014 and immigrated to the United States. He said he was trying to escape violence but now fears they came here to die.
Patrick was 26, the oldest of Peter and Dorcas’ six children. Peter said moving to the U.S. was supposed to bring peace and safety.
“I knew that if you met the police officer in America, that you would be safe. What is making me cry more is that my son has been killed by a police officer,” Peter said during Thursday’s press conference.
The Lyoya family spoke through an interpreter on Thursday. Dorcas fought to speak as emotions overtook her multiple times and said they thought they escaped an unsafe area where there was war in Congo.
“I’m really deeply hurt and wounded,” she said. “I thought I came to a safe land. I need justice for my son.”
Patrick, who has two young children of his own, worked at an auto parts factory in Grand Rapids and would visit his siblings in Lansing on weekends, his dad said.
Peter asked for justice for his son and for the police to release the officer’s name. He said Patrick’s brothers and sisters want to know who killed him and would like to see his picture so they can know “this is the person that took our beloved one.”
The traffic stop was tense from the start. Video shows Lyoya getting out of the car before the officer approached. He ordered Lyoya to get back in the vehicle, but the man declined and asked why he was being pulled over.
The officer told him it was because of an issue with the license plate on the car. Then he asked Lyoya if he spoke English and demanded his driver’s license. The foot chase began soon after, video shows.
Prosecutor Chris Becker will decide whether any charges are warranted but said the public shouldn’t expect a quick decision. While the videos “are an important piece of evidence, they are not all of the evidence,” he added.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom released four videos on Wednesday, nine days after Patrick was killed. The four videos were from the dashcam from the responding officer’s car, the officer’s bodycam, doorbell camera from a neighbor’s home, and a cell phone video shot by a passenger in the car that Lyoya was driving.
The cell phone video was by far the most graphic and showed the struggle between the two men.
The officer’s body camera was turned off before the shooting, which happens when a button is pushed for three seconds, Winstrom said. He said it appears it was deactivated unintentionally due to body pressure during the struggle, but he would not discuss any officer statements about it.
“That will come out once the investigation’s complete,” Winstrom said on Wednesday.
The officer who shot Lyoya has not yet been named.