August 11, 2022

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Akron Police Say Black Driver Was Unarmed When Officers Fatally Shot Him

Police in Akron, Ohio, released footage showing the moments that led up to the death of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by eight police officers after he fled from an attempted traffic stop last Monday.

Authorities released the footage from two officers’ body cameras during a press conference on Sunday, while confirming that Walker was unarmed at the time he was shot.

Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett described the footage, which had Walker’s body blurred out, per his family’s request, as “difficult to watch” and “shocking.”

The body-camera footage, captured just after midnight on June 27, shows a police officer following Walker’s car on a high-speed chase. The police can be heard reporting a “sound of a gunshot” that came from the suspect’s car door. During the press conference, police also showed still images taken from surveillance cameras which they say show a flash coming from Walker’s car window during the chase.

The footage eventually shows the car slowing down until Walker jumps from the vehicle wearing what appears to be a ski mask. As seen in the footage, officers begin to chase Walker, who appears to look over his shoulder, and the officers open fire.

Mylett said that Walker had appeared to reach for his waistband and turned to the officers, which prompted them to open fire.

While authorities say Walker was unarmed when he was shot, police presented images of a handgun they said they found in Walker’s car, along with a loaded magazine and gold wedding band.

Warning: The footage below is graphic.

Autopsy records show that Walked had over 60 wounds on his body. Mylett said that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is working to confirm how many shots were fired at the 25-year-old.

Mylett said that officers immediately began issuing first aid to Walker after the shooting. According to records from the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office obtained by the Akron Beacon Journal, a medical examiner arrived at the scene of the shooting on Monday and found Walker laying on his back in handcuffs.

According to officials, the fatal incident began after officers tried to pull over Walker for a traffic violation and equipment violation. The officers involved in the shooting are currently on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure exercised when deadly force is used. Seven of the eight officers who shot Walker are white, according to WKYC-TV.

At a press conference after the police footage was made public, Walker’s family attorney, Bobby DiCello, accused police of trying to “turn him into a masked monster with a gun” and pointed out that Walker was unarmed when he was shot.

“It was absolutely excessive,” DiCello said when asked by a reporter about the number of shots that were allegedly fired on Walker. “The law requires you to use force that is reasonable.”

Mylett said Sunday that the officers involved must explain their actions and thought processes during the night of the shooting.

“When an officer makes the most critical decision in their life they’ve got to be ready to explain why they did what they did,” Mylett explained. They need to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing… And they need to be held to account.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, there have been protests across Akron. In response to the community’s outrage over Walker’s death, Akron canceled its Fourth of July events, including the city’s annual Rib, White, & Blue Festival.

Lakers superstar and Akron native LeBron James said he would be “praying for my city today” on Twitter.