A Black man was killed by a Michigan police officer during a traffic stop earlier this month, sparking protests in Grand Rapids. Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of the head, a forensic pathologist performed an independent autopsy said last week. During a news conference, forensic pathologist Werner Spitz and lawyers for the family of Lyoya says the autopsy found the 26-year-old was shot once.
“That is now scientific evidence of this tragic killing where his family believes was an execution,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said. Spitz says he found no signs of a struggle such as scratches or bruises on Lyoya’s body, adding the only injury was a bullet wound.
He said he did not know the caliber of bullet that was fired, but it was a “powerful bullet” that killed the man. The death of Lyoya, a Congolese refugee, outraged members of his family and local activists in Grand Rapids. Lyoya’s family is demanding that authorities fire the officer who shot him from the department and file criminal charges against him.
Grand Rapids police weren’t immediately available to comment in response to the independent autopsy findings. Grand Rapids police officials have placed the officer, who hasn’t been named publicly, on administrative leave.
Kent County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle said in a statement that he performed an autopsy on the day of the incident. He says toxicology and tissue results were pending and may take 60 days to be completed. Along with the full autopsy report won’t be made public until the State Police concludes its investigation.
“We have to investigate whether this was a class ‘driving while black’ case,” attorney Crump said.
Last week, police released videos of the incident taken from the officer dashboard of the officer’s car, from the body-worn camera and from a neighbor’s surveillance camera according to CNN.
The videos show Lyoya stepping out of the car looking confused and asked “What did I do?” while the officer repeatedly asks for a driver’s license and ordering him to get back inside the car.