When a medical examiner arrived to inspect Jayland Walker’s body, he was lying on his back in handcuffs. Reports show that he was shot multiple times — in the face, abdomen and upper legs during a car chase with Akron Police Department officers.
The 25-year-old man was the third person killed in Akron, Ohio, by police in six months. The medical examiner ruled his June 27 death a homicide.
Protesters blocked streets, and Fourth of July celebrations were canceled. The city is bracing for violence. Walker’s family and attorney say the police accounts of the fatal shooting don’t add up. They’re calling for peaceful protest and full transparency.
“We loved Jayland. He was my skinny little nephew and we miss him. We just want some answers,” said Jayland’s aunt, Lajuana Walker Dawkins.
Police said they tried to pull Walker over for traffic and equipment violations shortly after midnight. He refused to stop and opened fire on the officers as they chased him down East Tallmadge Avenue toward State Route 8 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, up to about 80 miles per hour, they said.
Bobby DiCello, an attorney for Walker’s family, disputes claims that the man was in a high-speed chase with officers.
“This was a pursuit. And the difference is pretty huge, because a pursuit means they followed him around the speed limit, not excessively high rates of speed,” DiCello told Atlanta Black Star. “So, he wasn’t, say, doing 80 in a 35 or 100 in a 65. There was nothing like that.”
Authorities say a weapon was retrieved from Walker’s vehicle. 3News reports that one casing was also found in the car and a second was found on the roadway. DiCello said Walker did not have a firearm during the encounter with police. He could not “confirm or deny,” if the man had a weapon in his car.
“He had no weapon on him or near him,” DiCello said. “Nothing at his side. Nothing on the ground.”
Akron police officers fired more than 90 rounds. About 60 wounds were identified on the young Black man’s body.
“We need to understand why a traffic violation, equipment violation turned into a car chase. Why a traffic equipment violation turned into the loss of a life,” said Judy Hill, president of the Akron chapter of the NAACP.
Traffic camera video obtained by the Beacon Journal reportedly shows up to 10 patrol cars were in pursuit of Walker at one time. Police said he created a “deadly threat” when he jumped out of the vehicle while it was still rolling.
Police say they tried to deter Walker with stun guns at first but used firearms after they said he made motions that caused them to fear bodily harm, according to reports.
“Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them. In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect,” police officials said.
A number of officers were placed on administrative leave. The police department has yet to release body-worn camera footage of the incident, but city officials said it would be released “in the following days” along with additional information.
“Tragically, we are once again faced with a young man, with his life before him, gone too soon,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett said in a joint statement. “Every single life is precious, and the loss of any life is absolutely devastating to our entire community.”
“Our prayers are with Jayland Walker’s loved ones, and we offer our sincere condolences to all those who knew him. Our thoughts are also with our Akron police officers and their families.”
DiCello said Walker has never been in trouble with the law. He has received one traffic ticket in his life and was employed as a Door Dash delivery driver at the time of his death.
“We don’t want people burning things down. We don’t want people smashing windows. We don’t want violent protests,” DiCello said. “It’s all about peace, dignity and justice.”
Walker’s mother, Pamela, said she is stunned by his violent death. She described Walker as a family man who enjoyed Sunday dinners with her and his sister, Jada. Walker’s father, Edward Pete Walker, died in 2018. Walker lost his fiancée in a traffic accident last month. However, he did not show any “signs of despair” the lawyer said.
The Walker family were founding members of the St. Ashworth Temple Church of God In Christ, where his funeral service will be held.
“I am sick as mother that it came to that,” she said. “If they had spent five minutes with him, it would’ve never ended that way.”