An independent autopsy has revealed that Patrick Lyoya, the Grand Rapids, Mich., man shot by a police officer earlier this month died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head, family attorney Benjamin Crump said on Tuesday (April 19). The autopsy, performed by forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz was commissioned by Lyoya's family.
Lyoya, 26, was fatally wounded on April 4. According to local station WZZM, authorities say a Grand Rapids police officer initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle with a faulty license plate. Lyoya, who was driving the vehicle, fled from police on foot after being confronted by police.
A physical struggle then ensued with the officer, who subsequently shot and killed Lyoya. GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed that the officer’s body camera was found at the scene, however it’s unclear how it came off of him. A video of the shooting shows the struggle between the two over the officer’s taser.
“This independent autopsy report confirms what we all witnessed in the horrifying video footage – unarmed Patrick Lyoya was conscious until the bullet entered his head, instantly ending what could have been a long and fruitful life,” Crump said at a press conference held in downtown Detroit, demanding that the officer be held accountable. “This young man and his family moved to the United States to pursue a better and safer life, yet he was brutally killed at the hands of a police officer, who failed to deescalate the situation before he took Patrick’s life.”
Lyoya’s family is disputing claims that he initiated any sort of struggle. They maintain his car had broken down in the street and stepped out of the car to see what the problem was when the cop arrived, before that officer got ahold of him and put him on the ground and shot him in the back of the head.
The officer who engaged Lyoya has not been identified by the GRPD, but the department claims he’s been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
WZZM reports that Lyoya was a refugee whose family fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States fearing violence in the war-torn African nation and was granted asylum in 2014. He was also a father to two daughters.
Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton is slated to deliver the eulogy at Patrick Lyoya’s funeral. According to local online news site MLive, Sharpton will also help cover Lyoya’s funeral expenses via his nonprofit organization, National Action Network.
“I will support the family of Patrick Lyola and Attorney Crump w/ funeral and burial assistance, and I will stand with them in the fight for justice in Patrick’s name,” Sharpton stated.
The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday (April 22).