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Black man shot in the back of the neck by Michigan police, autopsy finds


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A black man who was killed by a Grand Rapids, Michigan police officer during a traffic stop earlier this month was shot in the back of the neck, a medical examiner who performed an independent autopsy said Tuesday.

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At a press conference in Detroit, medical examiner Werner Spitz and attorneys for Patrick Lyoya’s family said the autopsy revealed the 26-year-old had been shot once and the police officer was holding his gun to the back of the head.

“There is now scientific proof of this tragic murder which his family believe was an execution,” civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said at the press conference.

The death of Lyoya, a Congolese refugee, has outraged his family members and sparked protests in Grand Rapids by activists who say it represents the latest example of police violence against young black men.

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Lyoya’s family asks the authorities to fire the officer who shot him and to file a complaint against him.

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Grand Rapids police officials placed the officer, who has not been publicly named, on administrative leave and asked Michigan State Police to investigate the shooting.

Kent County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle said in a statement that he performed an autopsy on the day of the incident and prepared a death certificate stating the cause and circumstances of death.

He also said that toxicology and tissue results are pending and could take 60 days to be completed and that the full autopsy report will not be released until Michigan State Police have completed its investigation.

“We need to investigate whether this was a ‘driving in black’ case,” Crump said, noting that the officer was traveling in the opposite direction of Lyoya before the stop.

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Last week, police released videos of the incident taken from the dashboard of the officer’s police cruiser, his body-worn camera and a neighbour’s CCTV camera.

They show Lyoya getting out of the car on a rainy street, seemingly confused and asking “what did I do?” while the policeman repeatedly asks for a driver’s license and orders him to get back inside the vehicle.

Lyoya appears to comply, but then closes the driver’s side door and tries to walk away, resisting the officers’ attempts to handcuff him.

After a short chase on foot, the two men fight on the lawn, at one point arguing over the officer’s stun gun, before Lyoya is shot.

The incident began after the officer arrested Lyoya on suspicion of his license plate.

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