Videos were released on Wednesday of the fatal police shooting of Patrick Liuya, the black man who was stopped during a traffic stop. Liuya, 26, was shot and killed April 4 by a police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after a struggle in which the two men appeared to quarrel over Officer Taser.
Videos released by the Grand Rapids Police Department included the camera the officer wears, the dash cam from the officer’s car, surveillance video from a house across the street, and cell phone video taken by a passenger in the car.
The moments immediately before the shooting are difficult to discern, as the body-worn camera has been deactivated, surveillance video is from a distance and the cell phone is often pointed at the ground rather than the officer and Leuya. However, the two men appeared to be wrestling with the officer’s taser at certain points in the videos.
In the videos, the white officer stops Liuya for driving her with mismatched plates. Liuya got out of his car and the officer, who was not recognized, immediately ordered him to stay in the car. Liuya stays outside the car and closes the door. The officer asks if Liuya speaks English and his license several times. Lyoya tells him the license is in the car. Then the officer orders Lyoya to get it.
It looks like Lyoya is asking a passenger for the license, but the passenger doesn’t seem to know where he is. As Liuya was trying to walk alongside the passengers in the car, the officer told him to stop and grab him. After a short struggle, Lyoya was able to gain freedom and a chase on foot ensued. The officer deals with Lyoya in a nearby park and the two wrestle on the ground for an extended period of time as the officer repeatedly tells Lyoya to stop. The officer appears to have briefly subdued Yuya and the two of them stood up, however, and the struggle continued.
At one point, although it is not clear when exactly due to the proximity of the conflict and poor camera quality from the surveillance video across the street, the officer took out the bolt. He can be heard shooting twice, but according to Cedar Rapids Police Chief Eric Weinstrom, the Taser mistook Team Lyoya both times. The two continue to struggle and at certain moments both men seem to have their hands on a gun. The two men fell to the ground again as the officer repeatedly told Liuya to let go of the bolt. At some point, the passenger can be heard saying that Lyoya is not touching the Taser.
With Lyoya facing the ground, the officer was able to overpower him. The officer, still asking Lyoya to let go of his stun, then took out his gun and shot Lyoya in the head.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon browsing videos, Weinstrom said the body camera had been disabled because the button controlling the recording function had been pressed down for more than three seconds during the struggle. Weinstrom said he estimated based on the video that the two men fought the electric bolt for approximately 90 seconds.
The officer is currently on paid leave while Michigan State Police is conducting an investigation into the shooting. Weinstrom said the officer would not be identified unless he was charged with a crime.
During the press conference, Weinstrom repeatedly refused to make any final statements about whether or not he felt the shooting was justified or if any of the officer’s actions violated department policy. He said those decisions will be determined by the state police investigation.
“I consider it a tragedy,” he said.
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Liuya family, said in a statement after the news conference that “the video clearly shows that this was an unnecessary, excessive and lethal use of force against an unarmed black man who was disoriented by the encounter and fearful for his life.”