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Dorcas Lyoya, mother of Patrick Lyoya

Dorcas Lyoya (right), the mother of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year old Black man who was shot and killed by a white Grand Rapids police officer following a traffic stop, cries at a press conference on April 14, 2022. (Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Patrick Lyoya's Family Demands Charges Against Officer Who Killed Him

The Lyoya family expressed shock that their son was killed in the U.S. eight years after they sought asylum from violence in Congo.

Julia Conley

The family of Patrick Lyoya, the 26-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan on April 4, expressed shock that their son was killed in the United States in a press conference on Thursday as they called for the officer to face prosecution.

"There can be no justice, but there must be accountability."

The Lyoya family came to the U.S. from Congo in 2014 to escape violence, according to The Washington Post.

"We were in an area that was not safe, there was a war," Dorcas Lyoya, Patrick's mother, said Thursday. "And I thought I had come to a safe land, safe place."

Peter Lyoya, Patrick Lyoya's father, told the Post that he was told, "You are safe" when the family arrived in the U.S. as refugees.

"It seems like we are in danger even when we come here," he said.

Lyoya's parents spoke through an interpreter at the press conference and were joined by their attorney, Benjamin Crump, and Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor.

"I'm surprised and astonished to see that it's here that my son has been killed with a bullet," Dorcas Lyoya said. "That was my beloved son."

The Lyoyas said they plan to file a federal lawsuit and demanded that the officer be publicly identified and fired as well as prosecuted. Authorities say he has been placed on administrative leave.

The Grand Rapids community has also called for the officer's name to be made public, with demonstrators marching through the city this week, carrying signs reading, "Name killer cops" and "Grand Rapids Police Department is protecting a murderer."

Video recordings from the officer's body camera, his vehicle, a nearby security camera, and a witness' cellphone were released this week and showed that Lyoya, a father of two, was killed after the officer stopped him allegedly because his license plate didn't match the vehicle he was driving.

"It seems like we are in danger even when we come here."

The officer grabbed Lyoya after an exchange about his driver's license, and Lyoya pulled away and began to run. The officer then tackled Lyoya to the ground. Body camera footage showed Lyoya reaching for the officer's Taser before the camera shuts off, and separate recordings show the officer on Lyoya's back before shooting him in the back of the head.

"Based on what we see in that video, we believe that this officer should be terminated for engaging in unnecessary, excessive use of deadly force," Crump said at Thursday's press conference. "And his mother and father and their family are asking that the state attorney charge him to the full extent of the law for killing their son, for breaking their hearts, for making his young children orphans. Fatherless. Equal justice requires it."

Lawmakers have joined civil rights groups in recent days in condemning Lyoya's killing.

"There can be no justice, but there must be accountability," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) decried the U.S. Senate's failure to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed in the U.S. House last year. Negotiations over the bill collapsed over Republicans' objection to a proposed end to qualified immunity, which protects police officers from misconduct lawsuits. 

"The Lyoya family deserves more than our sympathy," said Tlaib. "They deserve legislative action and courage."

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