AKRON, Ohio (AP) – A black man was unarmed when Akron police chased him and killed him in a hail of gunfire, but officers believe he shot them earlier from a vehicle and feared he was preparing to open fire again, authorities said.
Akron Police released video Sunday of the pursuit and killing of Jayland Walker, 25. The mayor called the shooting “heartbreaking” while pleading for peace and patience from the community.
It remains unclear how many shots were fired by the eight officers involved in the shooting, but Walker suffered more than 60 injuries. An attorney for Walker’s family said Walker was on the ground while officers continued to open fire.
Protesters marched through the city and gathered in front of the Akron justice center after the video was released. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Walker’s death “was a homicide. Shoot straight.”
Officers attempted to stop Walker’s car early Monday for an unidentified device and traffic violation, but less than a minute into the pursuit, the sound of a shot was heard coming from the vehicle. and transportation department cameras captured what appeared to be a flash of gunfire coming from the vehicle, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said. That changed the nature of the incident from “an ordinary stop to a public safety issue,” he said.
A few minutes later, the vehicle slowed and Walker emerged from the moving vehicle, wearing a ski mask and jogging, police said. A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the seat and a sheath matching the weapon was later found at the point where officers believe a shot was fired. from the car.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use the stun device, the foot chase continued to a parking lot, at which point a volley of bullets could be heard. Mylett said he had watched the video dozens of times and it was difficult to discern Walker’s actions, but one still image appeared to show him “going down to the waist” and another appeared to show him turned to an officer. He said the third photo “captures the forward movement of his arm.”
“Each officer was independent of the other in relation to the other that they felt that Mr. Walker had turned his head and was gesturing and moving into firing position,” he said.
Mylett said an officer who shoots someone must be “ready to explain why they did what they did, they need to be able to articulate what specific threats they are facing. .. and they need to be held accountable.” But he said he was withholding judgment on their actions until they released their statement, and he said the union president had told him it was all “totally appropriate.” cooperate” with the investigation.
Police said more than 60 injuries were found on Walker’s body, but further investigation will be needed to determine exactly which eight bullets were fired and how many times Walker was hit. Officers assisted and could hear one person say he still had a pulse, but he died at the scene, Mylett said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost vowed to conduct a “complete, fair, and expert investigation” and warned that “body-worn camera footage is just one view of the big picture.”
The officers involved in the shooting were given paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases.
Walker’s family is calling for accountability but also peace, their attorney said after the city released video of the shooting. One of the attorneys, Bobby DiCello, said police handcuffed Walker before attempting first aid.
“How it got to this with a chase is beyond me,” DiCello said, adding that Walker’s family had no idea why he was on the run from police. Walker is grieving the recent death of his fiancée, but his family shows no signs of worrying about it, DiCello said.
“He’s not a criminal,” DiCello said. “Obviously he was in a lot of pain. He doesn’t deserve to die.”
DiCello called the police shooting excessive and unreasonable. “I hope we remember that when Jayland ran across that parking lot, he was unarmed,” DiCello said. He said he did not know if the ring found near the gun belonged to Walker.