(Fwrd Axis) — The sun beat down on the poverty-stricken refugees as they wait in line to get a bucket and soap at the Rhoe – a camp of internally displaced people in Ituri. This patch of land in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely violent, people are randomly killed in machete attacks, and girls are raped by militiamen while looking for food and water.
In February, Steve Wembi and Abdi Latif Dahir with The New York Times reported on an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo where a militia executed at least 60 people. Last month fourteen people in DR Congo were killed in a horrific machete attack, seven were children, including a two-year-old girl and five women.
The Lyoya family escaped from DR Congo in 2014, after experiencing years of terror and violence, and were granted asylum to live in the United States. Congolese people are currently the largest refugee group settled in Michigan.
Patrick Lyoya, 26-years-old, had been living in Grand Rapids, Michigan for about five years. He was a charismatic man and father of two who worked in a manufacturing plant that produced auto parts.
“Patrick never had a problem with anybody,” his dad, Peter Lyoya, told The Associated Press through an interpreter during an interview at his Lansing apartment.
April 4, 2022, Patrick Lyoya was pulled over by a Grand Rapids police officer in a traffic stop for an alleged unregistered license plate. The white officer asked Patrick if he spoke English and demanded his driver’s license. After he couldn’t provide his license and learning that he would be arrested Lyoya began walking away from the officer who failed at detaining him.
“From my view of the video, Taser was deployed twice. Taser did not make contact,” GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom told reporters.
During the traffic stop at no point does Patrick assault the officer, he just ran.
“A foot pursuit, in this instance, was not needed. You have their vehicle right there,” said Law Professor David A. Harris, noting the officer could have simply identified Lyoya by searching the vehicle identification number.
They eventually struggle in front of several homes while Lyoya’s passenger got out and watched. The officer kept telling Lyoya to “let go” of his Taser, but the officer’s life wasn’t in danger and Patrick wasn’t a dangerous suspect.
Videos released by the GRPD, including footage recorded from the passenger in Lyoya’s car, show the unidentified officer kneeling on an unarmed Patrick Lyoya and fatally shooting him in the back of the head while he’s lying face down on the ground.
The officer who murdered Lyoya has been placed on paid leave while Michigan state police conduct a criminal investigation. The legal team representing the Lyoya family, Ben Crump and Ven Johnson, plan to release results of an independent autopsy Tuesday, April 19 at a Detroit press conference.
Patrick Lyoya came to the United States to live in a place free from persecution, violence, and tyranny, only to be executed by a police department that’s facing criticism over excessive force, particularly against Black people.
His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, April 22, at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids.
We have to make it harder to become a police officer and easier to be Black in America. #JusticeForPatrickLyoya