GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Saturday afternoon to call for justice for Patrick Lyoya, who was killed by a Grand Rapids police officer early this week.
The group met outside Amplify GR, a community growth organization, on Kalamazoo Avenue SE around 3 p.m.
They carried posters of Patrick and signs that read “Say his name: Patrick Lyoya.”
The group called for justice as they chanted, “Black Lives Matter.” They were calling for a revolution, saying that GRPD is “not the solution.”
Demonstrators marched from Boston Square to the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, where a candlelight vigil was held before 6 p.m.
Lyoya’s mother and father stood at the front and center of the peaceful protest. His mother carried a picture of her late son and cried out his name.
“Where I came from, I have seen people being killed. I never witnessed like how my son was killed. The way that the police assassinate my son,” Patrick’s father, Peter Lyoya said through an interpreter.
He made it clear that he wanted the protest to remain peaceful. He’s watched the video showing his son’s death, and he wants the world to see it too.
“I would like this protest to be a peaceful protest, but I want them to show the world that what is happening right now is not right. It’s not good. The world needs to know the truth. People need to fight for justice for Patrick,” Lyoya said through an interpreter.
Peter brought his family here in search of a better life from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he watched people get killed.
But he’s never seen anything like what happened to his son.
“Ever since when I saw the video of my son, right now I’m feeling that I have no strength and I’m feeling like I could die at any time,” Lyoya said through an interpreter.
When protestors reached the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, Lyoya’s brother said “I still can’t believe what happened. I don’t think I’m ever going to believe what happened.”
Peter Lyoya said his sons haven’t been able to eat or sleep since losing their brother on Monday.
Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack led a chant calling for the video to be released to the public. “Show the video! We want the world to know! Patrick!” he chanted.
Womack said it meant a lot that today’s protest was peaceful, and he’s proud of so many young people for turning out.
“We’re gonna be peaceful to respect their family. And if we heard something going to the left, we went over there and policed ourselves. Because we knew that if GRPD came in, it could be people setting up a trap to have confrontation with them. Because there’s so much high pain going on right now,” Womack said. “I’m very happy. And as you see, there wasn’t a police car in sight. So this was just proof that we can police ourselves.”
At the candlelight vigil, demonstrators fell quiet as they gathered close to hear friends and family speak. Songs were sung in both English and Swahili.
“I would never wish this to happen to another parent like me. We want justice for Patrick,” said Peter Lyoya through an interpreter. He thanked everyone who came out to mourn with him and his family.
The shooting happened Monday morning. The Grand Rapids Police Department says that Lyoya tried to run away from an officer and that there was then a “lengthy fight.” Lyoya was ultimately shot and killed.
While police video showing the shooting has not yet been made public, Lyoya’s father and his interpreter have seen it. They say it shows the officer shoot Lyoya in the back of the head.
News 8 has not seen the video and cannot independently confirm what it shows.
Michigan State Police is handling the investigation into the shooting. That is standard protocol when an officer uses deadly force.
On Saturday, protestors shouted for police to “release the video” of the killing of Patrick Lyoya.
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 next week. He did not say exactly when it would be released.
Demonstrators also demanded to know the name of the officer who took Patrick’s life.
“Prosecute the police!” they chanted.
The MSP investigation could take anywhere between two weeks and two months.
“I just need justice,” Peter Lyoya said through an interpreter. “That’s why I’m here. I’m crying. I’m looking for justice.”
The family is hiring Benjamin Crump as their legal representative. He’s represented the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
We expect to hear from Crump on Sunday during his first visit to Grand Rapids since taking the case.