Peter and Dorcas Lyoya (bottom left, center and top right, respectively), have called the April 4 killing of their son, Patrick Lyoya, an execution. Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and protesters around the country are calling for justice after the 26-year old was shot to death by a Grand Rapids, Mich. police officer. (AP Photos)

By AFRO Staff

The family members of Patrick Lyoya, the Black man shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids, Mich. police officer on April 4, selected civil rights giant Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver the 26-year-old’s eulogy on April 22.

Lyoya moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 to escape the horrors of war and found a new home in Michigan. He survived eight years in the United States before his deadly encounter with American law enforcement.

“I will support the family of Patrick Lyoya and Attorney Crump with funeral and burial assistance, and I will stand with them in the fight for justice in Patrick’s name,” Sharpton posted to Twitter ahead of the funeral. 

According to information released by the National Action Network, led by Sharpton, Lyoya was murdered by a White police officer as he faced the ground. 

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom held a press conference on April 13 and announced that nine videos that captured the incident from different angles would be released. 

The videos put out by Winstrom’s office include video from the officer involved, which begins in his police cruiser, and footage from a nearby doorbell camera that was activated when motion began to take place on the street.

Ben Crump, who will represent the family, has secured multimillion-dollar settlements for families of other Black men killed by police as a civil rights attorney. 

“We can confirm that Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of his head,” Crump said, in a statement. “That is now scientific evidence of this tragic killing and what his family believes was an execution.”

Crump said Lyoya could have lived until his early 80s and had a “long and fruitful life.”

Ultimately, however, Lyoya’s life was taken during what began as a stop for having the wrong plates on a vehicle. 

The Michigan State Police (MSP) is investigating the death.

“It has been nearly two weeks since the tragic officer involved shooting which resulted in the death of Patrick Lyoya. Many in our community – including myself – continue to grapple with what’s happened,” said City Manager for Grand Rapids, Mich., Mark Washington. “I continue to offer my condolences to the Lyoya family and I am committed to full transparency and to finding ways to have trusted policing.” 

“I am hopeful MSP will expedite their investigation to help provide the community with further clarity around what happened,” said Washington.

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