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Death of Patrick Lyoya renews calls for federal police reform

The "White Paper," written by attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, lays out comprehensive police reform with a goal of removing "the bad apples."

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — National civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who's representing the family of Patrick Lyoya, is renewing the call for federal police reform.

During a news conference Thursday in Grand Rapids, Crump said the Grand Rapids police officer, who has not been identified, was not justified in shooting and killing Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop on April 4.

Crump has worked with Antonio Romanucci, a Chicago-based attorney with a special concentration in civil rights and police misconduct, to achieve state and federal police reform.

Together, they wrote the "White Paper", which lays out what they call comprehensive police reform with a goal of removing "the bad apples."

They recommend the adoption of many factors including:

  • Decertification of police officers accused of misconduct on or off-duty
  • Licensing of police officers
  • Common curriculum in de-escalation training
  • Eliminating qualified immunity

"Once you can certify police officers and then be able to take away that certification once they become one of the 'bad apples', you'll automatically improve policing, restore community trust, and you won't have these incidents where Patrick, or Amir or George, or we can name all of the first names you want, to where they have to run or get away from police officers because they can't trust them," said Romanucci, the Founding Partner of Romanucci & Blandin LLC.

The two attorneys also played a pivotal role in trying to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed.

The proposed federal legislation would've increased accountability for law enforcement misconduct, and restricted the use of certain policing practices.

The act passed in the House in March 2021, but failed in the Senate.

"We have to wonder if and when President Biden will sign some executive orders bringing some of the agreed pieces of the George Floyd Police Reform Act into actual orders so we're hopeful for that possibility also." 

Romanucci says he can't divulge whether or not he's had any conversation with the White House or its staff. 

He adds he won't give up on the quest to present the White Paper to anybody who will listen.

"Even though the George Floyd case is over, it's complete, our work will never be done," he said. 

According to Romanucci, there hasn't been significant police or civil rights reform in the US in about 60 years.

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