The mayor of Akron, Ohio, declares a state of emergency after bodycam footage, showing the city’s police officers fatally shooting an unarmed Black man, is released. The videos show the young man was shot and sustained 60 bullet wounds as he ran from the cops last month.
On Sunday, July 3, officials released the 18:48 minutes of police bodycam of the shooting of Jayland Walker after a traffic stop on E. Tallmadge Ave, resulting in the 25-year-old’s death. The footage shows at least eight officers letting off a shower storm of gunfire at the victim at the same time.
An excessive force investigation is underway, as Akronians have taken to the streets demanding justice.
Despite Akron’s recently appointed Police Chief Stephen Mylett saying investigators are trying to see how many times Walker was shot and placing the officers on administrative leave, the community wants answers now.
“We do not know how the exact number of rounds had been fired,” he said at the Sunday press conference. “However, based on the video, we anticipate that number to be high. A lot of rounds were fired.”
He continued, “I will not be surprised if the number at the end of the investigation is consistent with the number that has been circulating in the media.”
Reports have stated that up to ten police patrol cars were called and 90 rounds were shot at Walker.
According to the chief, the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation will determine the number of times, identifying the entrance and exit wounds, Walker was shot. Records have already been noted in official documents he had over 60 wounds all over his body.
The official shared Walker had a gun in his car but did not say if it was an authorized weapon. He also said, during the police-involved shooting, he was unarmed. Mylett also details how officers tended to the man after he fell to the ground and even were prepared to take him to the hospital.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Walker tragically passed at the scene,” the chief reported.
State Attorney General Dave Yost promises to the community that a “complete, fair and expert investigation” will transpire and the BCI is looking at all the evidence carefully, noting “body-worn camera footage is just one view of the whole picture,” PBS reports.
In addition to the BCI’s investigation, the APD will conduct its own separate internal investigation to determine whether the officers violated department rules or policies.
On the morning of Monday, July 4, Mayor Daniel Horrigan, who called the death “heartbreaking” and asked the community to be patient with law enforcement, declared a state of emergency in the city, after a night of civil unrest.
“The protests have evolved into violence, resulting in vandalism and rioting in the City of Akron, the executive orders said in part, continuing, “In light of the violence and damage that has occurred, there is credible cause to believe that further threats of violence and unrest exist.”
Because of this threat, Horrigan invoked a curfew for residents, prohibiting people from being out in the downtown area of Akron from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. The protests and curfews further disrupt the holiday plans, causing the city to cancel the July Fourth fireworks event.
The Washington Post noted that approximately 50 people were arrested on Monday during some protests.
Lt. Michael Miller, a spokesman for the Akron Police Department, said the charges ranged from rioting to failure to disperse to misconduct during an emergency.
An earlier curfew was issued by police shortly after 12:00 a.m. on July 4 and to enforce it, the officers allegedly “deployed a chemical irritant to prevent further rioting and property damage.”
The video details the events surrounding Walker’s death, showing the police attempting to stop the man’s car around 12:30 a.m.
While the traffic or equipment violation was unspecified, the footage shows that in less than a minute into their engagement, the video captures the sound of something similar to a shot coming from Walker’s car and seemed to be directed at the patrol car. The video also seems to catch a “muzzle flash” coming toward the police.
Mylett says the alleged shooting shifted the nature of the policing from “a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue.”
For about six minutes the police chase Walker and when he finally slowed down (the video shows the car creeping toward the sidewalk curb), they approach him with their guns already drawn.
Afterward, a man wearing a ski mask opens the passenger door and runs. At least 10 seconds of pursuit transpired before officers fire a flurry of rounds for 6 or 7 seconds at the individual until he fell from the injuries.
An APD report states one of the cops on the scene originally tried to use his or her stun gun but was not successful.
In an exclusive interview with Atlanta Black Star, the Walker family attorney, Bobby DiCello, dismisses the police account of the event.
“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 said in the interview. “So, he wasn’t, say, doing 80 in a 35 or 100 in a 65. There was nothing like that.”
“He had no weapon on him or near him,” DiCello continued. “Nothing at his side. Nothing on the ground.”
NAACP President Derrick Johnson also disputed this claim that officers were acting in self-defense and noted that the degree of the excessive force makes Walker’s death “murder.”
He wrote in a statement, “Any officers who fire 90 rounds at a Black man, for an alleged traffic violation, should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This wasn’t self-defense, it wasn’t an accident in the heat of the moment, it was murder. Point blank,” he continued. “This Black man was killed – struck more than 60 times by 90 fired bullets – for a possible traffic violation. This doesn’t happen to white people in America.”
The civil rights leader asked, “Why do police continuously target us like domestic terrorists? We are just trying to live our lives, and we are tired of being hunted like prey. We know that pulling over for the police is often a death sentence.”
“The Akron Police Department has so much blood on their hands, and placing the officers who killed Jayland Walker on paid administrative leave won’t wash that blood away. Their response to this murder is disgusting. We demand justice for Jayland Walker now,” he concluded.
The breakdown of the officers was also released by the force.
Seven of the eight men that shot and killed Walker are white. One of the firing officers is Black. None of the officers has had any substantial strikes on their records, been disciplined based on a complaint, or had a fatal shooting.
Their length of service with Akron police ranges from one-and-a-half to six years, and none of them has a record of discipline, substantiated complaints, or fatal shootings, the department says.