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Patrick Lyoya's family demands to know who killed him

Dozens gather at the Resurrection Cemetery in Wyoming for the burial of Patrick Lyoya on April 22, 2022. (Troy Truxton/WWMT)
Dozens gather at the Resurrection Cemetery in Wyoming for the burial of Patrick Lyoya on April 22, 2022. (Troy Truxton/WWMT)
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WWMT) — Patrick Lyoya's mother cried uncontrollably, and his father stared straight ahead as family, friends and strangers stopped to pay their respects in front of their son’s open casket.

More than a thousand people attended the public funeral for Lyoya in Grand Rapids Friday.

The 26-year-old black man was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer April 4 following a traffic stop and short physical struggle.

Lyoya was face down on the ground when the officer shot him in the back of the head, cell phone video showed.

Rev. Al Sharpton delivered Lyoya's eulogy at Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids. Most of the 30-minute eulogy focused on how the 26-year-old died.

Sharpton asked, “Is this Michigan 2022 or Mississippi 1952?"

Lyoya was killed on the same date that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee 54 years ago.

A Grand Rapids police officer pulled Lyoya over on the morning of April 4 for a license plate that did not match the silver car he was driving, police said.

“You gonna run and chase someone down about car tags, take your gun out your holster for some car tags, take someone’s father for some car tags," Sharpton said.

He also demanded the Grand Rapids Police Department release the name of the officer who shot and killed Lyoya.

“Justice should first start with naming this officer,” said Sharpton. “That is a danger to every citizen in this country, it will set a national precedent that police now would not have to be named, unless they’re charged, which means they can make repeat offenses."

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom said the department will not name the officer until Michigan State Police completes its investigation and the Kent County Prosecutor decides if the officer will face criminal charges.

“How dare you hold the name of the man, who killed this man," Sharpton said during Lyoya's eulogy. "We want his name."

Sharpton said the team is also calling on the justice department to begin a civil rights investigation into Lyoya’s death.

“We will not leave this to local prosecutors,” said Sharpton.

Police released videos of the shooting on April 13, nine days after Lyoya’s death.

Barriers went up around the Grand Rapids Police Department the day before police released those videos.

Nearly every day since the release of the videos, protesters have marched and called for change.

Some have called on the Kent County Prosecutor to file criminal charges against the police officer who shot and killed Lyoya.

The Lyoya family fled to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014 to escape violence.

The flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo was draped across Lyoya's casket as it was wheeled out to a hearse.

Friday was the first time Lyoya's family saw his body after he was shot by a Grand Rapids police officer. Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner’s families were at the funeral service. Both were killed by police.

A procession of about 100 vehicles followed the hearse carrying Lyoya’s casket on a 3 mile route from the church to Resurrection Cemetery in Wyoming.

The interment was a smaller, more intimate gathering than the public funeral.

Friends and family sang as Lyoya's casket was lowered into the ground.

He leaves behind his parents, five siblings and two children.

"Patrick was a father too, a big brother to all of us," said Jimmy Barwan, one of Lyoya's close friends.

Lyoya’s family described him as a warm and loving person. The oldest of five children, Lyoya’s relatives said he was the leader of the family.

He loved to watch and play soccer and also he loved to dance with his siblings, his family said.

Lyoya loved his family, and his two young children.

"I look up to him, the way he took care of his kids," Barwan said.

Michigan State Police was still investigating the Lyoya case, then it would be turned over to the Kent County prosecutor to determine if criminal charges would be filed.

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The prosecutor said he expected to start reviewing the case next week.

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