Execution in Grand Rapids Illustrates Failure to End Police Terrorism

African immigrant Patrick Lyoya was shot at point blank range to the back of the head while the police officer remains on the payroll and at-large

By Abayomi Azikiwe

This is a link to the police bodycam video of the encounter with Patrick Lyoya which led to his death: (18) Bodycam footage from fatal Grand Rapids police shooting of Patrick Lyoya – YouTube

Over two weeks after Patrick Lyoya, 26, was stopped, chased, tackled and shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids patrolman, killing him instantly, there still has not been any punitive action taken against the white officer responsible for the death of the Congolese immigrant.

The City of Grand Rapids has refused to even release the name of the officer since he has not yet been charged with a crime.

This incident in a major midwestern municipality clearly illustrates the systematic refusal by the local, state and federal government agencies to address the ongoing deaths at the hands of the police. Two years after the brutal killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others, the relevant authorities responsible for the funding and oversight of law-enforcement have refused to take any action to reform the operational culture of the police.

Lyoya’s family immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2014, according to quotes cited in the press from his father. Both of his parents are demanding justice in the case.

A videocam from the police officer illustrates the aggressive questioning and posture of the white Grand Rapids patrolman. After Lyoya attempted to get away from the officer, he was pursued and tased. Later the videocam shows Lyoya being tackled and further abused physically. At the instant that the fatal shot was fired to the rear of the head, the police videocam appears to have been turned off by the officer. An independent autopsy requested by the Lyoya family confirmed that he died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Since the killing of Lyoya, people in Grand Rapids have demanded the release of the officer’s name and that he be terminated from the police department. They are also insisting that prosecutors file criminal charges against the unnamed law-enforcement agent. The case has gained international attention due to the fact that Lyoya was an immigrant from Africa and was unarmed.

The government of the DRC and its Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde discussed the killing of Lyoya at a cabinet meeting on April 15 in Kinshasa, the capital of the central African state. The U.S. has extensive business interests in the DRC which is a major producer of strategic minerals.

An article published in the Guardian from the Agence France Press (AFP) said of the situation that:

“During a government meeting on Friday (April 15), DR Congo Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde ‘forcefully condemned the cowardly assassination by a white police officer in the United States of a citizen of Congolese origin, Patrick Lyoya, unarmed, during a traffic stop,’ according to the minutes of the meeting. He said the U.S. ambassador in DR Congo had expressed ‘his deep regrets and his government’s condolences following this despicable act.’

“U.S. (Grand Rapids) police have released four videos from the incident, one of which shows the officer — who has not been named — lying on top of Lyoya as the two scuffled, and then appearing to shoot him in the head.”

This incident has revealed the actual social character of the U.S. to not only the Lyoya family but to over 1.3 billion Africans living on the continent. The U.S. promotes itself as the paragon of democracy, human rights and peace. However, the country is one of the most violent in the world with thousands killed annually….

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