GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined community leaders for a Sunday afternoon forum on the death of Patrick Lyoya, who was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer on April 4.
The civil rights attorney is representing Lyoya’s family. Crump, who has been dubbed “Black America’s Attorney General,” also represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and others.
Leaders put together the forum at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ hoping to inform and provide a “heart of concern, compassion and support to a hurting family and the Grand Rapids community.”
After leading the crowd in a chant, saying “justice for Patrick,” Crump invited Lyoya’s family to join him up front.
“This is not about politics, this is not about policing in and of itself, this is about a broken-hearted family. A broken-hearted Black family, who yet again has lost a loved one unjustly at the hands of the individual who was supposed to protect,” Crump said.
Crump pushed for the release of the bodycam video, which Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom has promised to release next week.
“We have to have that video released, no matter how painful that is, because there’s a mistrust in the community,” he said. “The only way you can deal with that bridge of mistrust is to have transparency.”
In his first visit to Grand Rapids since taking on the case, Crump laid out his plans.
“The family hired me to make sure this matter is not swept under the rug,” he said after the forum. He said once the video is released, “Then we pray for due process. We want nothing but equal justice, that’s all we’ve ever wanted.”
Watch a replay of the event in the player below.
Crump was joined by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City Manager Mark Washington, Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack, Brandon Davis from the Grand Rapids Office of Oversight and Accountability, local NAACP President Cle Jackson, Pastor Israel and other pastors from the Grand Rapids community.
“My commitment to you as the director of oversight is that I will neutrally audit anything associated with this case and I will call it the way I see it,” Davis said.
Commissioner Womack organized the forum.
“In bringing Ben Crump it shows that we have another avenue besides violence to find a conclusion to this with his representation,” Womack said. “Hopefully that our prosecutors here, if they see that there’s a crime, we pray that they will charge and that they will treat this officer like they treat the rest of us.”
The shooting happened on the morning of April 4. The Grand Rapids Police Department says that Lyoya tried to run away from an officer and that there was then a “lengthy fight” before he was shot and killed.
While the police video of the shooting has not been released, Lyoya’s father and his interpreter have seen it. They say it shows the officer shootting Lyoya in the back of the head.
News 8 has not seen the video and cannot independently confirm what it shows.
On Saturday, a group of demonstrators marched and held a vigil for Lyoya. They were calling for police to “release the video” of the killing of Lyoya.
Michigan State Police is handling the investigation into the shooting. That is standard protocol when an officer uses deadly force.
The Kent County prosecutor asked the MSP and GRPD not to release the video until MSP’s investigation is complete, fearing it could affect the integrity of that investigation. But, GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom said Friday that he would keep his promise to release it “no later than noon on Friday, April 15.” He did not say exactly when it would be released.
The MSP investigation could take anywhere between two weeks and two months.
— News 8’s Corinne Moore and Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.