A video released Sunday showed eight police officers in Akron, Ohio, involved in a shooting that killed an unarmed black man whose body was found with some 60 injuries after being killed in a traffic jam last week. had fled.
Police played multiple videos at a press conference, one of which shows a shot being fired from the car driven by Jayland Walker, 25.
It is not yet clear how many shots were fired by the officers involved in the shooting, but Walker suffered more than 60 injuries. A lawyer for Walker’s family said Walker lay on the ground as officers continued to fire.
Police Chief Steve Mylett said officers tried to stop Walker’s car early Monday for unspecified traffic and equipment violations, but less than a minute into a chase, the sound of a gunshot from the car was heard. A transportation department camera captured what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle.
Police said the car slowed down a few minutes later and Walker emerged from the still-moving vehicle wearing a ski mask and fled on foot.
A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the seat and a casing matching the weapon was later found at the point where officers believed a shot came from the vehicle, authorities said.
After a failed attempt to use anesthetics, the chase continued on foot to a parking lot, where a crescendo of bullets can be heard on the video.
(WARNING: video contains graphics)
The Walker family’s attorney, Bobby DiCello, told reporters on Sunday that he was “deeply concerned” by police allegations that Walker had fired at officers from his car, stressing there was no justification for his violent death.
“They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” DiCello said. “I ask you, as he runs away, what is reasonable? Shoot him? No, that’s not reasonable.’
Actions ‘difficult to distinguish’
Mylett said he’s watched the video dozens of times and Walker’s actions are hard to discern, but one photo seems to show him “going to his waist” and another appears to show him turning to an officer and holding a third photo “captures a forward movement of his arm.”
After the shooting, the officers who fired were kept apart, and oncoming investigators guided them individually through the scene, Myett said.
“Each officer, independently of each other, said they felt that Mr. Walker had turned and gestured and moved into a firing position,” he said.
Mylett said an officer firing at someone “must be ready to explain why they did what they did, they should be able to articulate the specific threats they faced…and they should be held accountable.”
But he said he is withholding judgment on their actions until they make their statements. He said the union chairman has told him that everyone is “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Police said more than 60 wounds were found on the body, but more investigations will be needed to determine exactly how many shots the eight officers fired and how many times Walker was hit. Officers rushed to the rescue, and he can be heard saying he still had a heartbeat, Mylett said, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost promised a “complete, fair and expert investigation.” He warned that “Body-worn camera images are just one view of the whole picture — before conclusions can be drawn, the full assessment must take place.”
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is customary in such cases.
Calls for police responsibility
Walker’s family is calling for responsibility, but also peace, their lawyers said after the city released a video of the shooting.
DiCello said police fired shots even after Walker was on the ground, and police handcuffed him before attempting to administer first aid.
“How the chase got to this point is beyond me,” DiCello said, adding that Walker’s family does not know why he fled the police.
Walker mourned the recent death of his fiancée, but his family was not concerned beyond that, DiCello said.
“He was sad, but he got through it,” DiCello said. He said he doesn’t know if the ring found with the gun belonged to Walker.
“He was not a criminal,” DiCello said. “He was clearly in pain. He didn’t deserve to die.”
DiCello called the burst of police fire excessive and unreasonable. “I hope we remember when Jayland ran across that parking lot, he was unarmed,” DiCello said.
Protesters marched through town 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 “murder. Blank point.”
The shooting was the latest in a series of killings of black men by law enforcement officers in the United States that critics say are racist and unwarranted, including the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.