GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Wednesday afternoon, the Grand Rapids Police Department released video footage of an officer who shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop that turned deadly last week.
At a news conference Wednesday, the Greater Grand Rapids Branch of the NAAP President Cle Jackson shared his reaction to the video released. He says it should've been released sooner.
"I said 'Its not if [an incident like] Eric Gardner is going to happen here, or [an incident like] George Floyd. It's just when,'" he says. "Now we're experiencing our 'when.'"
To the local chapter of the NAACP, the traffic stop interaction between Patrick Lyoya and the Grand Rapids Police officer should've ended differently.
"In our opinion, it was just straight up murder," Legal Counsel for Public Safety Carlton T. Mayers II, Esq. says.
They're calling the entire incident an unnecessary and excessive use of force, especially when Lyoya was pinned to the ground after a struggle with the officer.
"Then as we all saw, he started to walk away or some would say run away. [The officer] had the discretion how he wanted to pursue that young man, as a trained officer of the law over a simple traffic infraction," Jackson says. "If [Lyoya] was such a threat to this community, I'm sure local law enforcement agents would have probably apprehended him later that day, or within the week. It's as simple as that."
Jackson says this incident is the result of a system rooted in anti-Blackness.
"When you think about the origins of our modern-day police mentality, we can trace those back to what's known as the slave patrols created in the Carolinas in the early 1700s, to establish a system of terror in response to slave uprisings with the capacity to pursue," he says. "Think about that pursuit, and how oftentimes Black and Brown bodies are still being pursued today.... So what we witnessed on that video was reminiscing in our opinion of the slave patrols."
While the name of the officer has yet to be released, Mayers believes Chief Eric Winstrom has enough evidence to fire the officer.
"I think what we need to focus on is not as much who is the name of the officer, but what is going to happen to the officer?" he says. "With [Chief Winstrom] being new, I think this could be a good opportunity for him to set a good foot forward with the community and show them that he really supports the community more than this toxic police culture of the Grand Rapids Police Department."
The officer at the center of the investigation has not been publicly identified, but GRPD did say the officer joined the department in 2015. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
At this point, the investigation into the deadly interaction remains in the hands of the Michigan State Police. Once detectives have completed their findings, MSP will submit the case to the Kent County Prosecutor to determine the next steps.
Images taken from Patrick Lyoya video
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