GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton demanded Friday that authorities publicly identify the Michigan officer who killed Patrick Lyoya, a Black man and native of Congo who was fatally shot in the back of the head after a struggle.
"We want his name!" Sharpton said Friday, as he spoke at Lyoya's funeral.
He said authorities cannot set a precedent of withholding the names of officers who kill people unless the officer is charged.
"Every time a young Black man or woman is arrested in this town, you put their name all over the news. Every time we're suspected of something, you put our name out there," he said. "How dare you hold the name of a man that killed this man. We want his name!"
Mourners, many of whom were wearing T-shirts or sweatshirts bearing Lyoya's picture, stood in applause.
Sharpton delivered the eulogy at the request of family members. Their lawyer, prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, also will speak at Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids. A program of the service, which was printed in English and Swahili, said family members and friends also planned to share reflections.
Sharpton and Crump have frequently joined with mourners to speak at the funerals of Black people killed by police. Sharpton's eulogies have included those for George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis sparked a national reckoning on race; Daunte Wright, who was shot during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis; Andre Hill, who was killed in Columbus, Ohio; and Andrew Brown Jr., who was killed in North Carolina.
Lyoya's body lay in a white, open casket inside the church before the service began. Once the funeral started, the casket was closed and flag of Congo was draped over it. Below the casket, a sign bearing an image of the American flag and a photo of Lyoya said: "It's our right to live," in both English and Swahili. Lyoya's parents and other family members wore black sweatshirts that had Lyoya's picture on the front and the words "Justice for Patrick" along a sleeve.
Lyoya's mother, Dorcas, sobbed as mourners filed in pay their respects, and tears ran down her cheek as live music played and a choir sang. U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Michigan's only Black member of Congress, was among those who filled the 1,000-seat church to capacity. Local elected officials, such as Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and state Sen. Winnie Brinks, were also among those in attendance.
Outside the church, mourners were given T-shirts that read "Justice For Patrick Lyoya" on one side and "It's our Right to Live!" on the other. Some men removed their suit jackets and slipped the shirt on over their dress shirts.
On his way inside, Crump said: "We're here to support the family again through this very difficult time, Nobody expects their child to be taken from them before they are buried. But to have them taken by the person who's supposed to protect and serve them is a different kind of trauma."
An unarmed Lyoya was face down on the ground when he was shot April 4. The officer, whose name has not been released, was on top of him and can be heard on video demanding that he take his hand off the officer's Taser.
Earlier, the officer is heard saying that the license plate did not match the car Lyoya had been driving. Lyoya, a 26-year-old father of two, declined to get back into the vehicle as ordered, and a short foot chase ensued before the deadly struggle.
On Thursday, Peter and Dorcas Lyoya joined protesters in Lansing for a march and rally, where the call was renewed for authorities to release the name of the officer who killed their son.
State police are investigating the shooting. The agency will forward findings to Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker for consideration of any charges. He has told the public to not expect a quick decision.
Attorneys for the Lyoya family have said they believe video collected and released by police shows Lyoya was resisting the officer, not fighting him. His parents have called the shooting an "execution."
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