GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Patrick Lyoya's mother dropped to her knees hugging her first-born son, as he lay still in of the white casket with the Democratic Republic of the Congo flag draped on it. His parents are viewing his body for the first time. His father stood over his son, as tears streamed down his face calling out his name.
Lyoya was a father, brother, and son and recently became a household name after being shot and killed by a white Grand Rapids police officer.
Hundreds packed the Renaissance Church of God in Christ on the city’s southeast side to pay their respects and say their final goodbyes to the 26-year-old.
Reverend Al Sharpton gave the eulogy and called for justice at Lyoya’s funeral.
“We can’t bring Patrick back, but we can bring justice in Patrick’s name,” Sharpton said.
The theme of the funeral was all about justice and at the same time uplifting the grief-stricken family. Lyoya came to the United States when he was a teenager and attending school in Lansing before moving to Grand Rapids. On April 4, the same day Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated 54-years ago, Lyoya was stopped by a Grand Rapids police officer on the city’s southeast side due to an improper license plate tag, according to police.
Lyoya and the officer got into a scuffle which led to the officer being on top of him. In video recordings, the officer could be heard saying let go of my taser. Lyoya, unarmed and facedown to the ground, was shot in the back of the back of the head by the officer.
Sharpton told the audience at the funeral it is injustice that we still do not know the name of the officer.
“How dare you hold the name of the man that killed this man. We want his name,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton went on to say there is a problem in Michigan when it comes to justice and demanded change is needed immediately.
“Is this Michigan.. the Michigan that just not long ago you failed to convict men that threatened to kidnap the governor. Now you’re going to protect the name of a policeman that shot somebody in the back of the head? Is this Michigan 2022 or Mississippi 1952,” said Sharpton.
Not only were calls for justice made at the funeral, but others spoke about what Patrick Lyoya meant to them and the community.
“He was a brother. He was a son. He was a friend,” said Bethlehem Shekanena. “He was a hard-working American. He was a proud Congolese man who cared for his family and cared for those around him.”
Shekanena said America is supposed to be the land of the free and a welcoming place for all, but that did not ring true after Lyoya was gunned down in Grand Rapids.
The family attorney, Ben Crump, also called out for justice and said the same outcry given for those impacted by the war in Europe should be given to those who are being killed by police in America.
“World leaders can’t condemn Russian soldiers unarmed citizens in the back of the head in the Ukraine but then refused to condemn police officers who kill unarmed black citizens in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If it’s wrong in the Ukraine, it’s wrong in Grand Rapids Michigan.”
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