5 details we learned from videos released in Grand Rapids police shooting of Patrick Lyoya

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Grand Rapids — A Grand Rapids police officer's body-worn camera was deactivated before he fatally shot a 26-year-old man because of a struggle over a stun gun, police said Wednesday.

The revelation was one of several new developments revealed by the Grand Rapids Police Department and video footage from the officer's bodycam and other video released at a Wednesday press conference about the April death of 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya.

Lyoya was killed on April 4 after he struggled with a Grand Rapids police officer, whose name has not been released, following a traffic stop for a license plate registration issue.

Lyoya got out of the car and did not provide a driver's license as requested, eventually walking away before the officer attempted and failed to detain him. When Lyoya fled, the officer chased him on foot a short distance and a struggle began again in the front yard of a home adjacent to where Lyoya was pulled over.

The officer continued to be unable to restrain Lyoya and drew his stun gun.

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The struggle over the stun gun lasted about 90 seconds, Grand Rapids police Chief Eric Winstrom said. The officer's chest was against Lyoya's back, with Lyoya facing away and toward the ground, and in one instance Lyoya appeared to push the stun gun toward the ground and the officer's body camera deactivated.

The body-worn camera deactivated during the struggle because it was held down for three seconds as the two men struggled, Winstrom said.

The officer fired the stun gun twice, and Winstrom said both times it was fired into the ground. 

"Let go of the Taser," the officer shouted to Lyoya before firing a single fatal shot with his handgun.

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Video is shown during a press conference on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Grand Rapids showing the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids police officer on April 4.

While the body camera didn't capture that fatal shot, Michigan State Police obtained video from a home surveillance system that did.

The officer's body camera was found in the mud, where it triggered back on but didn't capture any of the shooting.

Grand Rapids police released the video footage over the objections of Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, who previously requested that police not release any evidence until the investigation is complete. An investigation into the incident by Michigan State Police is continuing.

Here are four other key takeaways from the footage:

What was said

Lyoya exited what appeared to be an older model of a beige sedan in a green sweater before the officer approaches.

"Stay in the car," the officer told him repeatedly, then asked if he had a license and if he spoke English. Lyoya replied 'Yes,' and "For what, what do you want?"

The officer told Lyoya the car isn't registered, but Lyoya appeared confused and dismissive. The officer asked for his driver's license.

Lyoya told the officer his license was in the car but stood at the vehicle with the driver's side door open for nearly 30 seconds before closing it. The officer shouts, "nope, nope" and a struggle began when the officer tried to get Lyoya on the hood of the car Lyoya was driving. Lyoya broke free and ran around the car and into a nearby yard.

Losing his slippers and with his pants sagging, Lyoya and the officer struggled as the officer tried to get Lyoya's hands behind his back while shouting "Stop resisting."

The passenger in the car Lyoya was driving, who stepped out of the car after the struggle began and captured cell phone video, could be heard before the fatal shot during the struggle saying, "Stop. You don't have to do all of that, you can talk to him," and "You hit him, too."

Taser fired twice

Video is shown during a press conference in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, showing the fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids police officer following a traffic stop for a license plate registration issue.

After struggling across the yard toward another house, the officer deployed his stun gun twice, Winstrom said. Both attempts sent electrodes into the ground as Lyoya appeared to force the weapon away from his body and said "Stop what you are doing, please." 

As Lyoya pushes the stun gun away the officer could be heard saying, "Let go of the Taser" while both men had hands on the weapon. 

Police relied on a home surveillance camera and cell phone footage taken by a passenger of the car Lyoya was driving to capture the incident not recorded by the body-worn camera.

While police didn't say how long the entire incident lasted, the pair struggled over the stun gun for about 90 seconds, Winstrom said, before the officer shouted, "Let go of the taser" again before he fired one shot from behind, killing Lyoya.

Lyoya shot in back of head

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom speaks about the April 4 fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya by a Grand Rapids police officer during a press conference on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

While Michigan State Police haven't released specifics on the shooting and Kent County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle said an autopsy report will not be released until the state police concludes its investigation, Winstrom acknowledged Wednesday that the officer shot Lyoya in the back of the head.

Winstrom said he would not draw conclusions and would wait until MSP finishes its investigation, but did address the altercation.

"You're trying to place him in custody. That's it," Winstrom said about the incident. "The follow-up question will be, was the use of force and policy — and I'm not going to comment on that — but the test (for that policy) is going to be whether in the view of a reasonable police officer, whether that deadly force was needed to prevent death or great bodily harm to that police officer?”

The officer called for backup when Lyoya ran from the car into the yard, but help did not arrive for about three minutes, Winstrom said.

There was no weapon recovered from Lyoya, Winstrom said, but he acknowledged he isn't aware of all the evidence since the Michigan State Police is overseeing the case.

Lyoya's family and Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack have described the shooting as an "execution." 

Winstrom would not detail the officer's statements from the scene but said he spoke to the officer, who is on paid leave, following the incident.

"He's in shock," the chief said.

Officers paired up on patrol

Protesters hold signs and chant during the a protest over the April 4, 2022, fatal shooting by Grand Rapids police of Patrick Lyoya in downtown Grand Rapids on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

The officer was alone in his patrol vehicle when he made the traffic stop.

The officer didn't call for help from other officers until after Lyoya fled into the yard, after the conversation about the registration problem, the request for Lyoya's driver's license and the brief scuffle near the car.

Help didn't arrive for another three minutes, after several minutes of struggle, two failed stun gun discharges and the fatal shot.

Following the incident, the police department implemented a temporary policy to have two officers per vehicle.

That policy is ongoing, Winstrom said.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_