15 April 2022

Action for Patrick

Miller Johnson’s statement on the shooting of Patrick Lyoya

Miller Johnson mourns the tragic death of Patrick Lyoya, who was killed in a confrontation with a Grand Rapids Police Department officer following a traffic stop. Patrick was just 26 years old; he was a father to two young children. He and his family joined the Grand Rapids community as refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fleeing violence. We grieve with the Lyoya family and the Grand Rapids community in this moment.

This moment also demands action. Because Miller Johnson believes that every person in our community should enjoy freedom from violence, especially from the people entrusted with our protection, the police. Yet a study of police shootings in 2021 shows that Black people are more than twice as likely as white people to be shot and killed by police officers.  And a 2017 study commissioned by the City of Grand Rapids concluded that there are statistically significant disparities in traffic stops and searches of certain minority groups versus whites in the City of Grand Rapids. The results of these studies are reprehensible and call us to action.

As members of the legal profession, we have a responsibility to ensure that our system of laws does not disparately impact people based on the color of their skin, the native language they speak, or the community where they live.

We must hold each other accountable beyond mere statements and words, and we invite our clients, stakeholders, and the public to hold us accountable for the commitment we are making today. That commitment is two-fold: (1) to develop an action plan designed with specific and measurable goals and deliverables to address many of the sentiments expressed in this statement; and (2) to spend our time and financial resources to implement our action plan. We will publish our action plan on our website by May 25, the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.

In our action plan, we will renew and redouble our already existing commitment to recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse team members.  We will assess our internal diversity, equity, and inclusion climate, identify opportunities for change, and make those changes. Moments like this remind us that we can and must do better.

Our action plan will also commit Miller Johnson to new efforts of community engagement, beyond our continuing Project Giveback efforts—including engaging with law enforcement, local officials, and community members on the topic of policing, and pushing for changes in laws and procedures to decrease the risks and frequency of confrontational police interactions.

We will publish periodic reports to evaluate progress toward our transparent goals. We invite the community, including our clients, to engage with us in dialogue to provide additional perspective and to ensure that our words published here today result in meaningful action. If you would like to share your input on our efforts, please contact your Miller Johnson team member or reach us at the email address included below.

Patrick Lyoya’s life mattered.

Miller Johnson