AKRON, Ohio – Local officials plan to release on Sunday body-camera footage of events surrounding the fatal police shooting of a 25-year-old man — a death that has rattled the city, prompted the cancellation of July 4 activities and drawn outrage from racial justice advocates.
Jayland Walker, who was Black, died early Monday morning in the parking lot of a Bridgestone tire facility south of downtown Akron, after police say he fled a traffic stop and fired a shot during a car chase.
Bobby DiCello, an attorney representing Walker’s family, alleged Thursday that police fired dozens of shots, shooting Walker in the face, abdomen, arms, and legs.
Akron police will show the video during a 1 pm press conference Sunday and release it publicly afterward.
“This is going to be a brutal video. It’s going to stir up some passion. It’s going to make people uneasy,” DiCello said. The attorney said Walker’s body was “just riddled with bullets . . . it’s an unbelievable scene.”
Walker’s family described him as a loving family member who aspired to start his own delivery business. He worked at an Amazon fulfillment center and as a delivery driver for DoorDash, family said. As a high school student, Walker had been a standout wrestler at Buchtel High School.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett will provide further details Sunday about Walker’s death, according to a city news release.
Mylett will meet with members of the Walker family and their legal representation before the press conference to allow them to review the footage.
The city and other organizations are opting to cancel and postpone several downtown events amid protests and in anticipation of escalating tensions.
Akron police have not said how many officers shot at Walker, only that multiple officers were on the scene. The department also has not said how many officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
A preliminary medical examiner’s report said a gun was found in Walker’s vehicle. Officials have not said if Walker had a gun on him when he was shot dead.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which was asked to take over the investigation, also did not answer questions about the case this week.
“Jayland Walker — I’m going to say his name over and over — Jayland Walker was somebody’s son. Jayland Walker was somebody’s nephew. Jayland Walker was an individual. He wasn’t just another Black man killed,” said Akron NAACP President Judi Hill, who was asked by the family to speak Thursday.
Traffic stop becomes chase
Police say Monday’s incident started when Walker drove off after officers tried to stop him for a motor vehicle violation about 12:30 am in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. Walker drove onto the highway, and police said he fired a gun from the car.
Ken Abbarno, a lawyer for the family, said he believes that seven white officers and one Black officer fired on Walker.
Traffic footage released by Ohio Department of Transportation shows a single cruiser chasing Walker onto the highway around 12:31 am Monday. A second cruiser appears moments later.
From a camera overlooking Akron’s I-77, 10 cruisers can be seen closely following Walker at 12:35 am
According to police, Walker drove onto Interstate 77 and then exited into the Firestone Park neighborhood, where he jumped out of his still moving car and ran. Police said they chased him on foot into the parking lot and that they fired at him after saying he presented a “deadly threat.”
Walker was handcuffed on the ground and pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 1 am
The chase lasted about four-and-a-half minutes.
Family demands accountability
The family on Thursday held a press conference at a local church in which they demanded accountability from Akron police, while also calling for peace, understanding and justice.
“I stand before you all with a family who is heartbroken, devastated, confused and searching for answers. There’s no words to describe what this family is going through.” said Paige White, attorney for the family.
Family also asked why police, who said officers used stun guns before firing their weapons, did not de-escalate the situation.
The family asked their attorneys to inform police that they will settle for nothing less than justice and accountability. And they asked that Walker not be spun into anything other than the “good man” he was.
“I know a lot of people like to say that their loved ones are good,” said Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, whom Walker called “Aunt Mini.” “But it’s the truth.
“We want you to know who Jayland was. We don’t want him to be portrayed as some thug,” the aunt said of the “skinny little nephew” she misses dearly.
Before his death, he was engaged to marry Jaymeisha Beasley, who was killed in Mayon a highway outside Cincinnati after being struck by a hit-and-run driver following a car crash. The driver has not been found.
Protesters gather in downtown Akron
Monday’s shooting has led to protests, with the city blocking traffic access in parts of downtown.
Fallout from the incident spilled into downtown Thursday, when a protest unaffiliated with Walker’s immediate family blocked traffic outside the police station and municipal courthouse. Judges postponed hearings, some municipal and county officers have closed or curtailed operations, and the mayor canceled the Rib, White and Blue and other downtown Fourth of July events this weekend, saying now is no time to celebrate.
Contributing: Doug Livingston, Akron Beacon Journal; The Associated Press.
Follow Jim Mackinnon on Twitter @JimMackinnonABJ.