GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Grand Rapids Wednesday for a peaceful protest after police released video of an officer shooting and killing Patrick Lyoya to call for justice.
The demonstrators say the officer escalated the situation and called for him to be arrested.
The demonstrators started in Rosa Parks Circle, where they chanted Lyoya’s name, around 5 p.m. They carried signs that said things like “no justice, no peace, no racist police” and “arrest violent cops.”
After a moment of silence for Lyoya around 6 p.m., the crowd marched down Monroe Center to Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters, the entrance of which was blocked by concrete barriers topped with chain-link fencing. A few people jumped over the barriers.
Officers with riot helmets on came out afterward.
Protesters have marched to the Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters. The crowd is growing.— Byron Tollefson (@byron_tollefson) April 13, 2022
They’re chanting “Justice for Patrick!”
“How many more of our children are they gonna kill?” others shout. pic.twitter.com/50sdjDjSbt
While outside the headquarters, firecrackers went off down the street, causing a strong reaction from protest organizers. One of the leaders told protesters to remain peaceful, as that’s what Lyoya’s family has called for.
It started raining around 7 p.m.
Demonstrators marched in circles around the police department, before moving to Veterans Memorial Park, where the protest ended.
The crowd dispersed around 9:30 p.m., about four and a half hours after it started.
A few businesses on Monroe Center boarded up their windows Wednesday. Some had messages of support for Lyoya.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, GRPD released four different angles of the shooting. It shows the officer pull Lyoya over. There was then a struggle that included Lyoya grabbing the officer’s Taser. The officer, who was atop Lyoya as the two struggled, ultimately shot him once in the head, killing him.
Lyoya’s family has asked people not to demonstrate for now.
“No protests at this time. We don’t want violence out there. We want to avoid any violence.”Lyoya family
Lyoya was an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So is his close friend Jimmy Barwan, who wondered after seeing the video why the officer drew his gun.
“They got somebody on the ground; they got somebody on the ground already sleeping. Why couldn’t you just handcuff him or something,” Barwan told News 8 separately from the protest. “Yes, I understand there was a Taser and I know all that stuff, but why not use any other legal force, you could’ve called for backup, anything.
“Why shoot him? Why kill him?” he continued. “What did he do to deserve that? And he was unarmed, no gun.”
GRAND RAPIDS NAACP RESPONDS TO VIDEO RELEASE
The president of Grand Rapids NAACP said it has been calling for changes within the Grand Rapids Police Department.
Cle Jackson spoke at a press conference Wednesday evening just hours after GRPD released the video.
“We have constantly, constantly in this city, have been fighting for reform,” Jackson said.
He said the video should have been released much sooner.
“From the very beginning, when I got the call Monday morning when it occurred from city officials … I said in order to do this right you need to immediately release any surveillance video technology that you have. No matter how bad it is,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the problems are systemic and the NAACP has been warning about misconduct by GRPD officers.
“We’ve constantly, constantly have been talking about the harassment and brutality that’s done right here,” Jackson said.
Now, they’re calling on the new police chief to be transparent and for major changes be made at the department.
“This is a community moment and I’m hopeful that Chief Winstrom will get it together. I am hoping that he will do the right thing and will continue to do the right thing,” Jackson said.
The NAACP’s Public Safety Advisor Carlton T. Mayers II said GRPD has enough information to fire the officer immediately.
“If you asked me, looking at the video it’s evident that there was no justification for use of lethal force,” Jackson said.
Jackson promised to pass on a message from the family as tensions grow.
“I met with the brother, Patrick’s brother, Jimmy for a while and one of the things he made clear and the family made clear is that they want peace and so I promised that we would fall in line and the message that I give to (the) community is to respect the wishes of the family. They’ve asked for peace and they’ve also asked for a fair and unbiased investigation,” Jackson said.
—News 8’s Byron Tollefson, Jacqueline Francis and Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.