Home GRCC GRCC student reaction to Patrick Lyoya shooting

GRCC student reaction to Patrick Lyoya shooting

Protestors stood united in front of GRPD to protest the killing of Patrick Lyoya. (Elizabeth Halvorson/The Collegiate)

By Kevin Lopez

It’s been a few weeks since Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old refugee from Congo, was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids Police officer. The reactions in the United States have been swift with protests and peaceful demonstrations. 

Here in Grand Rapids, there have been protests and calls for action and change. The Collegiate wanted to talk to students about the aftermath of the tragedy. It is important to note that when asked about the police shooting, many students claimed to not have heard about it or said they didn’t know too much about the shooting. Meanwhile, several others expressed serious concerns. 

“I was extremely shocked when I first heard what happened,” said Jodi Sonke, 38, of Grand Rapids. When asked about the videos police released that depict the moments leading up to Lyoya’s death, Sonke said, “I was sick to my stomach. I was really upset.”

Nate Burkens, 18, of Grand Rapids, said “It’s upsetting that someone died when they shouldn’t have. It’s upsetting that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened…” 

Demetrius Walker, 24, of Grand Rapids said he felt that the shooting was completely unnecessary. 

“He already had him pinned down, he didn’t have to shoot him,” Walker said.

Remington Ludtke, 21, of Middleville, agreed.

“They didn’t need to shoot him, the officer was on top of him and could’ve held him down or something,” Ludtke said. “They are supposed to be trained for this.” 

Katie Hansen, 26, of Holland, would like more police oversight.

“There is no accountability for the GRPD,” Hansen said “There is none at all.” 

The name of the officer who shot and killed Lyoya has not been released.

“The fact that the officer hasn’t been named yet is ridiculous,” Hansen said. “I know it’s a matter of safety, but he did what he did and they know it’s causing a lot of frustration for the public and now they are trying to figure out who it is, which could end badly.”

Walker said, “I live in a densely populated African-American neighborhood. I think they (the GRPD) lack an understanding of certain areas. They don’t know how to deal with people and situations.”

According to The Washington Post database that tracks every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the U.S. There were 1,020 shootings in 2021 and more than 5,000 nationally and 125 in Michigan since 2015. 

We asked students how they think local citizens will react if criminal charges are not filed against the police officer who shot and killed Lyoya.

“I think a lot of people are gonna be upset,” Walker said. “They are gonna lose faith in our police system.”

Ludtke said he’s not sure how the public will react.

“I don’t know, I think people might riot over this situation, but I’m not sure how things will go.”

Hansen feels like things could get intense.

“I definitely think it has the potential for riots and destruction. I know businesses downtown are taking precautions and it’s understandable that people are upset with GRPD. Everyone saw it, they (GRPD) can’t lie to us about this. I definitely think things could get dangerous.”

The tragic shooting has raised concerns for many local residents.

“I love this city, I’m from this city, I have a lot of faith in this city,” Walker said. “A man came here for a better life and it was taken from him. If this is how they (GRPD) would treat an immigrant, what’s that say for us?” 

This has been a very polarizing and difficult time for the people of Grand Rapids. The Collegiate will continue to follow this story. In the meantime, counseling services are available through GRCC here


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