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Kent County Commissioner Speaks On Lyoya’s Shooting

Police line in Canada.
Rene Johnston
Toronto Star via Getty Images
Police line in Canada.

National and local leaders are rallying around Patrick Lyoya’s family, as they await the release of body camera footage from the Grand Rapids Police Department. The 26-year-old was shot and killed during a traffic stop last week, in what his family says was an “execution” by police.

Communities gathered across Grand Rapids over the weekend, protesting the death of Patrick Lyoya. The Congolese refugee was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids Police Officer last Monday, amid police reports of an altercation during a traffic stop.

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump was among a list of guest speakers during a Sunday unity forum and announced he will represent Lyoya’s family. Crump has previously represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, among others in the fight against police brutality.

“For him to take this case and come to Grand Rapids within the week that this happened showed that there’s something there.”

That’s Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack who is balancing his time as an elected official and activist, bringing Crump in, and throwing his support behind the Lyoya family. Womack is quick to note his respect for law enforcement and City Hall but said change must come.

“We have one of the greatest police forces in the world, but they refuse to get rid of their bad tomatoes, I help this family not to be anti-police, I thought it would help the situation from both sides, but I’m paying a heavy, damaging price right now.”

Womack has received threats against his career in the past week, upon demanding the release of dash and body cam footage from GRPD. Despite opposition from Kent County Prosecutor, Chris Becker, newly appointed police chief Eric Winstrom has promised to release footage of the incident by Friday at noon.