Akron braces for protests after video of police killing is released

The city of Akron, Ohio, was on the brink on Sunday because of the police body camera footage released in the murder of a black man, police shot dozens of times as he fled from them on foot, apparently unarmed.

Jayland Walker was shot and killed at the end of a car chase in the early hours of June 27th. Eight policemen opened fire on Walker in the parking lot, authorities said. Bobby Dicello, an attorney for the Walker family, said the 25-year-old was shot 60 times.

The officer first tried to stop Walker for a traffic or vehicle violation around 12:30 a.m., Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said during a news conference Sunday. Walker drove off and the officer gave chase. Less than a minute later, the officer said he heard what sounded like a gunshot, according to footage released Sunday.

According to the video, police chased Walker for a while before he stopped and fled on foot. Although police said Walker made a move towards the police, which the police perceived as a threat, no such action was clearly visible in the video released on Sunday.

When the footage ends, the officers release a hail of bullets.

“I’ve been a trial lawyer for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything even remotely close to what this video is about to show.” – Dicello. told the New York Times.

The lawyer did not immediately respond to a Los Angeles Times request for comment, but joined the family and local leaders in calling for calm following the video’s release.

Mylett said Sunday that investigators found a handgun and a loaded magazine in Walker’s car, and a bullet casing matching the weapon was found near where police believe he fired the shot during the car chase. But there is no indication that Walker was armed when the police started shooting at him.

Mylett also said that officers had tried to incapacitate Walker with stun guns earlier in the chase, but had missed.

Dicello said he met with Mylett earlier in the week, and the chief admitted he saw no evidence of threatening actions taken by Walker. Asked about the comments on Sunday, Mylett declined to address them directly, but admitted that “when you see this in real time, it’s very hard to tell what Mr. Brain is saying.” Walker does.”

He added that the photographs show Walker reaching for his belt and pointing at the officers, even though he did not have a weapon. Mylett also said that all eight officers who fired believed they saw Walker move and take up a “firing position”.

Mylett said he could not confirm how many times the officers opened fire, but acknowledged that it would likely be in line with the high numbers DiCello described to the media. He also confirmed that Walker had been hit about 60 times during the shooting.

“We do not know the exact number of shells fired,” he said. “However, based on the video, I assume this number will be high. … I won’t be surprised if the figure at the end of the investigation matches the figure circulated in the media.”

The city of about 200,000 people has seen protests against Walker’s killing for a week, and city officials appear to have feared that the graphic video will spark chaotic demonstrations like those that followed Minneapolis police’s 2020 release of footage of the killing of George Floyd.

According to an Akron police spokesman, 13 police officers were at the scene on the night of Walker’s murder, eight of whom opened fire. The officers who shot Walker are on paid leave and the case is currently being investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

In recent years, police chiefs in several major cities have significantly narrowed down the situations in which police officers may engage in vehicle pursuits, recognizing the inherent danger that chasing poses to uninvolved civilians and officers themselves. In many cities, police officers are prohibited from prosecuting any crime that is not a felony.

Whatever Walker’s initial traffic violation was — Mylett said Sunday the specific traffic violation was unclear — a decision to go after him would be against best practice for harassment in most cities.

Mylett said that the sound of the gunshot, heard a minute after the start of the chase, changed the situation dramatically.

“How Mr. Walker turned onto the entrance to Highway 8 and a shot was fired, which changes the nature of the contact,” he said. “It has gone from a normal traffic stop to a public safety issue.”