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Independent autopsy confirms Patrick Lyoya was shot in back of head by Grand Rapids police

“The deceased was conscious and aware of the fact that a gun was being held to the back of his head. Death was instantaneous when the gun fired,” the report read. 

An independent autopsy has confirmed that Patrick Lyoya died instantly earlier this month when he was shot in the back of the head by a police officer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

The autopsy was conducted by Dr. Werner Spitz, who was hired by the legal team representing Lyoya’s family, headed by attorney Ben Crump. 

“There is no question what killed this young man,” Spitz said at a news conference in Detroit on Tuesday. 

“This male died as a result of a single gunshot wound with an entrance wound in the back of the head,” Spitz said. 

The report said Lyoya “was conscious and aware of the fact that a gun was being held to the back of his head. Death was instantaneous when the gun fired.” 

An autopsy by the Kent County medical examiner and a toxicology report have not been released.

Spitz has worked on several prominent cases, Crump said, including the investigations of the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. 

Lyoya was pulled over for a traffic stop on April 4. Four videos, including from a dashcam and a cellphone, that were released by the Grand Rapids Police last week showed Lyoya and the officer struggling on the ground, with Lyoya trying to take control of the officer’s stun gun. 

The officer ended up restraining Lyoya with his knee to his back and ultimately shot him as he was face down on the ground. 

Spitz demonstrated the bullet’s trajectory using several models, including a human skull. 

Lyoya was a refugee who came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014.

The officer involved has been put on paid leave and not been identified. Crump and the family have called for the officer to be identified, terminated and prosecuted for Lyoya’s death. 

“Today, based on scientific evidence, we can confirm that Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of his head,” Crump said on Tuesday. “That is now scientific evidence of this tragic killing and what his family believes was an execution.”

The investigation into Lyoya’s death is being handled by the Michigan State Police, who will hand over their findings to the Kent County Prosecutor’s office for review on whether charges should be filed in the case. 

The Grand Rapids Police Department declined to comment Tuesday. Jennifer Kalczuk, a spokesperson for the department, said it would be “inappropriate to comment on any aspect of the case" while the state police investigation is ongoing.

Crump added that a civil rights lawsuit is in the works and that his team would “independently and intensely” investigate every aspect of the death.