GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WLNS) – Videos released Wednesday that show a Grand Rapids Police Officer shooting a Black man in the back of the head have shocked many around the state, including law enforcement experts. 6 News showed the videos to two experts, one is a Michigan State University professor of criminal justice.
The other is an attorney who has worked on cases before involving the Grand Rapids Police Department.
Both said this situation could have been handled differently
“De-escalation would say this is not that serious, even if he’s trying to run away from me. But remember that these are decisions that are being made in fractions of seconds. And you know, trying to judge the facts and decisions, is hard to do,” said MSU Professor David Carter.
Dr. David Carter is a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University and even spent time as a Kansas City, Missouri police officer.
When it comes to the struggle over the taser between the officer and Patrick Lyoya, he said it becomes difficult to make the right call.
“I don’t think that Mr. Lyoya is being aggressive, I think he’s being passive. I can say that here watching the videotape. If I was that officer, I will also say, this man has my weapon, one of my weapons,” he said.
Michigan attorney Ven Johnson sees it differently.
“They are going to claim that the taser was, fighting over it, whatever, it doesn’t even matter. You can’t pull out your firearm. You can not pull out a gun. Simply because you are fighting over a taser with somebody,” said Ven Johnson with Ven Johnson Law, PLC.
Johnson added that the officer failed to warn Lyoya that he would be shot.
In Johnson’s perspective, the entire situation could have been avoided from the start
“This whole situation should have been de-escalated from the beginning. Even from the officer’s perspective, why would you as a one-on-one officer after you know this person will not voluntarily give themselves up, why would you engage anything more other than you wanted the engagement,” said Johnson.
Johnson went on to say he thinks the police department needs an overhaul in training and hiring practices to focus more on de-escalation and eliminating implicit bias. He said he hopes the city’s office of oversight and public accountability holds up its promise of transparency.