GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After Patrick Lyoya’s funeral on Friday, Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference calling for a federal investigation into his death.
Sharpton said he asked the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice on Friday to investigate the case. He said the Biden administration is aware of the death of Patrick Lyoya.
“We will not leave this to local prosecutors,” Sharpton said.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker has said he is waiting for state police to complete the investigation before deciding whether to file charges.
“We do not have to wait until the local prosecutors make their decision. We had a federal and state prosecution in George Floyd and got convictions in both,” Sharpton said.
He said the feds should not only investigate Lyoya’s death but also the investigation itself.
“The local prosecutor can think that it’s all going to end with him. No, it’s going to begin at the same time. We are not going to see this covered up by local authorities,” added Sharpton.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family, said authorities in Grand Rapids have a chance to make a difference.
“We believe that the whole world is watching Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the leadership gets to write how this story will end. Will it be one where we achieve equal justice for Patrick Lyoya and others? Or will it be remembered, as Rev. Al profoundly made the comparison, Michigan 2022 or Mississippi 1952? How will this tragedy be remembered?” asked Crump.
“I pray that they will take advantage of the opportunity to say, Grand Rapids, we’re better than what we saw in that video — an execution to the back of the head.”
Both Sharpton and Crump questioned why police and prosecutors haven’t released the officer’s name.
“I want to say, the national significance of this case is that, if we allow Grand Rapids or this county prosecutor or the police chief to hold the name of the police officer until or unless he’s charged, it will set a national precedent that ‘police now will not have to be named unless they’re charged,’” said Sharpton. “Which means they can make repeat offenses and we never know.”
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker defended the investigation.
“We’re not trying to cover anything up,” Becker said. “It’s the same process, same procedure” for every officer-involved shooting.
“We’ve been open with every officer-involved shooting we’ve done, and this is no different,” added Becker.
Traditionally, police and prosecutors in West Michigan don’t release names of people under investigation until after charges are filed. Becker said his office won’t stray from that.
“I don’t know why it would set a national precedent,” Becker said.