Family of African refugee Patrick Lyoya sues Michigan police

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the Federal District Court for Western Michigan, according to online records, on behalf of the family of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lyoya was fatally shot in the back of the head in April by former officer Christopher Schurr, 31, during an altercation that was caught on cellphone video and later released to the public. In June, Schurr pleaded not guilty to a charge of second degree murder.

Lyoya’s family is represented by lawyers Ben Crump and Ven Johnson, who say there is “overwhelming evidence” proving that “racial profiling and excessive force took place during the traffic stop, altercation physical injury and the eventual murder of Lyoya,” according to a press release. The press release does not specify the amount of damages and interest requested by the family.

The attorneys will detail the lawsuit against Schurr and Grand Rapids, a city of less than 200,000 people in western Michigan, at a press conference later Wednesday.

Activists condemned the shooting as another example of unjustified lethal force by police against young black men.

A medical examiner who performed an independent autopsy on Lyoya concluded that the officer held his gun to the back of Lyoya’s head and fired once.

Crump, known for representing the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and others in high-profile cases of black people whose killings have sparked outrage over race relations in America, has previously said the autopsy supported the view that Lyoya was the victim of an “execution”.

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Videos of the incident, which were made public in April, show Lyoya getting out of the car on a rainy street, seemingly confused and asking “What did I do?” while the policeman asks him several times for his driver’s license and orders him to return to the vehicle.

Lyoya appears to comply, but then closes the driver’s side door and tries to walk away, resisting the officer’s attempts to handcuff him.

After a short chase on foot, the two men faced off on a lawn, appearing for a moment to be fighting over the officer’s taser. Both men had fallen to the ground when the officer drew his gun and fired a bullet in the back of the head, as shown in the video.

The attempted arrest happened after the officer arrested Lyoya on suspicion of his license plate.

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