Akron, Ohio – A black man shot and killed by Akron police officers in a hail of bullets after a vehicle and foot chase was unarmed at the time of the shooting but appeared to have been shot from the vehicle during the chase, and officers said they feared he was preparing to shoot when the guns went off, authorities said.
The police on Sunday video posted which the mayor described as “heartbreaking” of the chase and shooting 25-year-old, while asking the community for peace and patience as the state investigation into the shooting continues.
Chief Steve Mylett said officers tried to stop Walker’s car for unspecified traffic and equipment violations, but less than a minute into the chase, a gunshot was heard from the car and a camera of the Department of Transportation caught what appeared to be a muzzle flash of the vehicle. Mylett said that changed the nature of the case from “a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue.”
Police said a few minutes later the car slowed down and Walker got out of the still-moving vehicle wearing a ski mask and fled on foot. A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found in the seat and a shell casing compatible with the gun was later found where officers believed a shot from the vehicle had come.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use stun devices, the foot chase continued into a parking lot, at which point a crescendo of gunfire can be heard. Mylett said he has seen the video dozens of times and Walker’s actions at the time are hard to make out, but one still photo appears to show him “going down to the waist area” and another appears to turn toward to an officer and a third party. image “captures a forward movement of his arm”.
After the shooting, the officers who fired stood apart from each other and watched over them, and arriving investigators led them individually through the scene, Myett said.
“Each officer independently of the other said they felt Mr. Walker had turned and was gesturing and moving into a shooting position,” he said.
Mylett said an officer who shoots at someone has to be “prepared to explain why they did what they did, they have to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing … and they have to have to be accountable”. But he said he is withholding judgment on their actions until they give their statements and said the union president has told him they are all “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Police said more than 60 wounds were found on the body, but further investigation will be needed to determine exactly how many rounds the eight officers fired and how many times Walker was hit. Officers rendered aid and can be heard saying he still had a pulse but was pronounced dead at the scene, Mylett said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost promised a “full, fair and expert investigation” and warned that “body camera footage is only one view of the whole picture; before we draw conclusions must do the full review.”
The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases. Seven of them are white and one is black, according to the department. Their tenure with Akron police ranges from one-and-a-half to six years, and none of them have a history of discipline, substantiated complaints or fatal shootings, he said.
Protesters marched peacefully through the city and rallied outside the Akron Justice Center after the video was released. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Walker’s death was not in self-defense, but “was murder. Point blank.”
One of the family’s attorneys, Bobby DiCello, said police shots were fired even after Walker was on the ground, and police handcuffed him before trying to administer first aid.
“How it came to this with a chase is beyond me,” DiCello said, adding that Walker’s family does not know why he ran from police. Walker was grieving the recent death of his fiancee, but his family had no indication of concern beyond that, DiCello said.
“I was sad, but I was getting through it,” DiCello said. He said he doesn’t know if the ring found near the gun belonged to Walker.
Walker’s family is calling for accountability, but also for peace.
“Anger is okay. Anger is understandable. Violence is not. We stand up for the dignity of Jayland’s life as we peacefully demand justice for him,” Walker’s family said in a statement to CBS News.
Police reform and racial justice