GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Relatives will gather Friday to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Patrick Lyoya, who was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop earlier this month.
The 11 a.m. service, with a eulogy from civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, will recall some of the racial challenges America — and the police — face. Lyoya was black and the officer, who has not been named, is white.
Family attorney Benjamin Crump – who has represented high-profile victims of police brutality including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Michael Brown – is expected to speak at the funeral and said he would appeal to stock.
Video of Lyoya’s arrest and fatal shooting, which sparked protests and garnered national attention, raises questions about whether race was an issue and whether lethal force was necessary.
Lyoya was arrested on April 4 by a police officer who said his license plate did not match that of the car. After Lyoya got out of the car, a short chase and struggle ensued.
The officer pulled out his Taser at one point, video footage showed. The two fought for the Taser and the officer fired a bullet in the back of the neck. The independent autopsy report showed no other wounds on the body apart from the gunshot wound.
Crump said Thursday that Lyoya “was brutally executed.”
The officer, whose name has not been released by authorities, is on paid leave and is being investigated by Michigan State Police. No charges have been brought against him.
Lyoya, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and his family have faced violence and persecution in Congo, which has experienced protracted conflict. Over the past two years, immigrants from the Congo have made up the largest group of refugees in Michigan.
PATRICK LYOYA ESCAPED VIOLENCE IN CONGO:He came to seek the “safe haven” of the United States. Then the police killed him.
Lyoya’s parents told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, last week that he was a loving son who worked at a small auto parts manufacturing plant.
“They told us that in America there is peace, there is security, you are not going to see any more murders,” said Lyoya’s mother, Dorcas Lyoya. She added that the United States was described as “a safe haven”.
The service will be held at the Renaissance Church of God in Christ, which can accommodate 1,000 mourners.
Contact Niraj Warikoo: email@example.com or Twitter @nwarikoo.