Hundreds call for 'justice for Patrick' at Michigan Capitol rally
Lansing — Standing outside the building where Michigan's laws are crafted, hundreds of demonstrators gathered Thursday and demanded the state's leaders seek justice for Patrick Lyoya, the 26-year-old Black man who was killed by a police officer in Grand Rapids on April 4.
The event outside the Capitol included a march and speeches, in which participants called for the officer's name be released publicly, for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel to take action and for the state to overhaul the way policing works.
"We are not asking for reform," said Karrington Kelsey, co-leader of Black Lives Matter Lansing. "We are asking for defunding the police. We can build another system that does not murder Black people, that is not policing.
"We can re-imagine what community safety looks like."
The officer had asked Lyoya if he had a driver's license and spoke English. When Lyoya indicated he spoke English and wanted to know why the license needed to be produced, the officer said the car wasn't registered.
Lyoya eventually fled the car, a chase on foot ensued and the officer and Lyoya ended up struggling over the officer’s stun gun, according to video footage, before the officer shot Lyoya in the back of the head while Lyoya was face down on the ground.
The Michigan State Police are now investigating the incident.
Earlier this week, attorneys for Lyoya's family said his death appeared to be a “classic” case of Lyoya being targeted for a “driving-while-Black" traffic stop.
At Thursday's rally, some attendees wore shirts with Lyoya's photo on them. The crowd repeatedly chanted "justice for Patrick" and "Black lives matter."
Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack said the way Lyoya's case is handled will set a precedent.
"We need justice for Patrick," Womack said. "We need to make sure this never happens to another family."
Just because someone doesn't immediately comply with a police officer's order doesn't give the officer the right to kill the person, Womack told the crowd.
Thursday's event was focused on highlighting "the murder of Patrick," Kelsey said. Organizers want legislation to stop Black people from being murdered by police, Kelsey added.
Staff Writers Beth LeBlanc, Hayley Harding and Oralandar Brand-Williams contributed.