Photo: REUTERS / Courtesy
Police in the United States have released a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black man in the back of the head following an altercation over a taser, the electroshock weapon used to temporarily incapacitate a suspect. .
Video of the incident, which took place on April 4 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, shows Patrick Lyoya, 26, running away from the police officer after he ordered him to stop his car.
The police officer, who has not been identified, is later heard telling Lyoya to “let go” of his taser, before the shots the man receives while lying face down on the ground.
The incident has sparked protests. Dozens of protesters gathered Wednesday outside the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) demanding that the name of the police officer involved be made public.
The protesters chanted “black lives matter” and “without justice there is no peace”.
State police said they are investigating the incident.
Lyoya was originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and had lived in Grand Rapids for about five years, according to the office of civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents his family.
lyoya had two little daughters and five siblings, said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke with her family.
“He came to the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him,” said Whitmer, a Democrat.
What do the videos show?
On Wednesday, the Grand Rapids Police Department released footage of the incident captured by the body camera of the police officer, another camera of a police unit, the mobile phone of a passenger in Lyoya’s car and a security camera of a house.
In one of the videos, the policeman is seen stopping Lyoya’s vehicle shortly after 08:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on April 4.
The agent decided to stop the car because the license plate did not correspond to the vehicle, authorities were quoted as saying by CNN.
Lyoya is then seen getting out of the car, but the policeman tells him to get back in the vehicle.
Confused, Lyoya then stands outside the vehicle and asks what he has done. The officer asks if she speaks English, and Lyoya replies “yes”.
The policeman repeatedly asks Lyoya if he has a license, and after a brief conversation, Lyoya runs away from the officer.
The two are then seen wrestling on the ground and the cop pulls out his taser, which the two fight over. The agent then tells Lyoya to drop the taser.
The two struggle in front of several houses in a Grand Rapids neighborhood as the passenger in Lyoya’s vehicle gets out of the car and watches what happens.
During this altercation, the officer accidentally turns off his body camera, according to state police.
However, images filmed from the mobile phone of the passenger in Lyoya’s car were also released, what show how the agent shoots to Lyoya on the back of the head.
In the final moments, the policeman was kneeling at times on Lyoya’s back, whom he tries to hold down.
Grand Rapids State Police Chief Eric Winstrom told reporters Wednesday, “From my point of view from the video, the taser was deployed twice. The taser made no contact.”
“And Mr. Lyoya was shot in the head. However, that is the only information I have.”
Winstrom described the incident as a “tragedy.”
The agent officer is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He will not be publicly identified unless criminal charges are filed against him, Winstrom said.
Winstrom added that she met with Lyoya’s father, Peter, and that they both cried.
“I understand it as a father… It’s heartbreaking,” the police chief told local TV.
Crump has demanded on behalf of the Lyoya family that the agent be fired and charges be brought against him.
The lawyer claimed that the videos showed the police officer shooting an unarmed Lyoya “while he was on the ground with his back to the officer.”
“Patrick never used violence against this agent even though that him policeman use violence against him on several occasionsCrump stated.
“The video clearly shows that this was an unnecessary, excessive and fatal use of force against an unarmed black man who was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life,” the attorney added.
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