Patrick Lyoya: Independent autopsy confirms unarmed black man was shot in the head by white police officer

An independent autopsy determined that unarmed black man Patrick Lyoya was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back of the head during a deadly altercation with a white police officer.

Lawyers representing Lyoya’s family released the autopsy results at a press conference on Tuesday morning, ahead of the funeral of the 26-year-old Congolese immigrant on Friday.

The autopsy, performed by forensic pathologist Dr. Wener Spitz found that his death was caused by a single bullet entering the back of his skull near the midline, traveling up and to the right side of his skull and lodging near his right temporalis. bone.

Lyoya, a 26-year-old who moved to the US with his family from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014, was killed by an unidentified police officer after he was stopped at a traffic stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 4 .

Graphic images of his death released last week show a struggle between the two men before the policeman pinned Lyoya to the ground and fired a fatal shot, killing him.

The video sparked protests in the local community and growing calls for the officer to be arrested and criminally charged, with the black man’s grieving family describing their son’s death as an “execution”.

Ben Crump, the prominent civil rights attorney representing Lyoya’s family, said at Tuesday’s news conference that the autopsy results prove “how graphic his murder was in a scientific way” as he vowed to “get to the truth.” about what happened to Lyoya. .

“This independent autopsy report confirms what we all witnessed in the horrific video footage,” he said.

“Unarmed Patrick Lyoya was conscious until the bullet entered his head, instantly ending what could have been a long and fruitful life.”

Based on Lyoya’s current health, Spitz concluded that the 26-year-old would have lived to be around 82.

The findings come before the official Kent County coroner’s autopsy report, which has yet to be released.

Officials said last week that they would wait until they received toxicology results and additional tissue tests and until the investigation into Lyoya’s death was completed before releasing the findings.

The Doctor. Spitz did not perform a drug test.

On Wednesday, the Grand Rapids Police Department released several videos from the April 4 encounter showing Lyoya being stopped in his car by the officer before a fight breaks out and the officer pins Lyoya to the ground and deploys his taser.

The incident then ends with the officer firing a fatal shot to the back of the black man’s head.

The approximately two-and-a-half-minute footage includes clips from four different videos: the police car’s dashboard camera, the camera used on the officer’s body, surveillance footage of a nearby house, and phone video captured by a person walking in a car with Lyoya.

It starts with the policeman pulling Lyoya to a traffic stop at around 8am for allegedly driving with an incorrect license plate.

When it pulls over, the black gets out of the vehicle.

“Stay in the car! Dude, I’m stopping you,” the officer says.

Patrick Lyoya evades the official before a fight starts

Body camera footage shows Lyoya visibly confused.

The policeman asks for his driver’s license and asks if he speaks English to which Lyoya answers “yes” and asks what he did wrong.

He then turns towards the door and speaks briefly to the passenger inside, before closing the driver’s side door and taking a few slow steps towards the front of the car.

At that moment, the policeman starts saying “no, no, no, stop” and “put your hands behind your head” and grabs Lyoya by the arms.

A fight then ensues with the black man pushing the officer away and running to the sidewalk.

The officer knocks him to the ground and the two men continue fighting on a lawn, with the officer overheard telling Lyoya to “stop resisting”.

During the fight, the officer fires his taser twice at Lyoya, who then appears to take the device from him.

The body camera is cut off at this point, but cellphone video filmed by the car passenger captures what happens next.

The officer is seen on top of Lyoya, pinning him face down to the ground while yelling “drop the taser” at the black man.

The officer is seen on top of Patrick Lyoya and firing a shot into his head.

Seconds later, the policeman pulls out his firearm and shoots Lyoya in the head at point-blank range. Lyoya’s body goes limp.

The fight lasted about 90 seconds. No weapons other than the policeman’s gun and the taser were found at the scene.

Police Chief Eric Winstrom said the officer shot the black man once in the head while his face was facing the ground.

It is unclear why the bodycam stopped working during the fight.

The police chief told a news conference on Wednesday that the department was releasing the footage in the interests of transparency.

He described the incident as “a tragedy” and said watching the filming was “a progression of sadness for me”.

Police declined to name the officer, saying only that he had been on the force for seven years and was placed on paid leave.

Michigan State Police are leading the criminal investigation into the shooting with part of the investigation exploring whether Lyoya understood the officer’s orders.

Lyoya’s funeral will be held in Grand Rapids on Friday, where the eulogy will be read by civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton.

Lyoya’s death is the latest in a long line of police killings of black people across the United States, nearly two years after the murder of George Floyd, which sent shockwaves across the world and sparked protests demanding an end to police brutality and of systemic racism.

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