The Reverend Al Sharpton attends a celebration of Black History Month in February at the White House. On Friday, he delivered the eulogy for Patrick Lyoya, a Black man killed by a police officer following a traffic stop in Grand Rapids, MI. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo
April 22 (UPI) -- Rev. Al Sharpton on Friday told mourners at the funeral of Patrick Lyoya that it's an insult to the Black man's family that the Grand Rapids Police Department in Michigan has refused to release the name of the officer who shot the 26-year-old to death on April 4.
Lyoya, a native of Congo and father of two whose coffin was draped in the flag of that country, was shot in the back of the head by the unnamed officer following a traffic stop and foot chase.
"There's trouble when you can shoot people in the back of the head and remain anonymous," Sharpton, the founder of the National Action Network, said at the funeral. "How dare you hold the name of the man who killed this man."
Sharpton said that the police department's position that it won't reveal the name of the officer unless he's charged with a crime is a precedent that cannot stand.
The civil rights leader from Brooklyn said, "Is this Michigan 2022 or Mississippi 1952?"
Sharpton also referred to the upcoming midterm elections in Congress, saying that the U.S. Senate failed to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
"I don't want anyone in this nation to ask for our vote unless they are pledging they will go to Congress and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act," he said. "We stand with good cops. . .but if a policeman kills when his life is not under threat -- and you can't be under threat when you are on top of someone with their head down and their face in the ground -- we're gonna call your name. "
An autopsy found no other injuries except for the gunshot, which family attorneys say indicate that Lyoya was not fighting with the officer. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said the police officer had pushed Lyoya's head to the ground during the arrest.
The officer had stopped Lyoya for improper registration for his vehicle and the officer's body cam went black seconds before he fatally shot Lyoya, according to footage released one week ago.