Body camera footage of Jayland Walker shooting raises questions
AKRON, Ohio — A 25-year-old black man who was killed last week by police officers in Akron, Ohio, suffered more than 60 gunshot wounds but was unarmed at the time, the chief of police said Sunday. the police.
The detail was among the facts that have begun to emerge in the murder of the man, Jayland Walker, who died last Monday after fleeing from police during what was believed to be a routine traffic stop. At a press conference on Sunday, police released body camera footage of the chase and shooting that showed the officers’ actions but delved into many of the issues surrounding his death, which is still the subject of discussion. investigation.
Mr. Walker had a traffic ticket and no criminal record. Police said they initially sought to arrest him for an equipment violation and a traffic violation.
Eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with department policy, police said.
After the videos were released, hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Akron, demanding justice for Mr. Walker and speaking out against police brutality, as Mr. Walker’s family urged the community to remain peaceful.
In one video, a popping sound can be heard at one point, and an officer reports gunshots coming from the door of Mr Walker’s car. The shot itself is not visible in the footage, but during the press conference footage of the exterior of the car was shown which appeared to capture a flash of muzzle coming from the driver’s side door of Mr. Walker.
Police said at the press conference that a handgun was later found in Mr Walker’s car and a casing was found where they said he had fired and that it matched the gun found in Mr. Walker’s vehicle. A photo released by police showed a handgun on the seat, along with a gold ring. Mr. Walker’s girlfriend recently died in a car accident.
Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for the Walker family, said Mr Walker only recently obtained the gun. “Jayland was unfamiliar with firearms, and we don’t know if they accidentally fired,” he said. “But police found no bullets in the handgun when they found it in the car after his death.”
At the press conference, police did not say whether the handgun in the car had been unloaded, but said there was a loaded magazine on the seat.
As the chase continued – it lasted over seven minutes – the footage shows an officer saying that Mr. Walker’s car is slowing down. (Mr. Walker’s car had reached speeds of over 50 miles per hour at times driving through residential neighborhoods.) Seconds later, Mr. Walker, wearing a ski mask, exits the vehicle and begins to flee walk.
The chase was brief and footage appears to show a number of officers pursuing Mr Walker, guns drawn, into a nearby car park while shouting at him. Officers initially deployed Tasers but were unsuccessful, police said. Seconds later, the officers open fire and Mr. Walker drops to the ground.
Akron Police Chief Stephen L. Mylett said he was unsure of the total number of shots fired at Mr Walker. He could not confirm the exact number of bullets that hit him (although he cited injuries reported by the medical examiner), but he expected the number to be “very high”.
Chief Mylett said officers claimed Mr Walker quickly turned to officers and made a move towards his “waist area”. The chief, however, confirmed that Mr Walker was unarmed after fleeing his car.
But Mr DiCello said at an earlier meeting that included the chief and family, the chief said he had not seen any evidence to suggest the officers’ lives were in danger.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating. Once this is complete, the case will be forwarded to the Ohio Attorney General’s office for review.
Whether or not to charge officers involved in a crime will be determined by prosecutors, but charges have rarely been filed in similar shooting cases involving police. If a gun was fired during the chase, that fact could weigh heavily on whether or not to pursue, and it could lend some credence to officers’ claims that they were in danger.
Mr DiCello criticized the way police portrayed Mr Walker at the press conference. “They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” he said. The family’s attorneys also questioned the city’s release of portions of the videos during the press conference and urged the city to release the entire video.
Police said they plan to release any body camera footage captured by officers during the shooting. This, they said, would include footage of the eight officers directly involved in the shooting as well as five others who were at the scene.
The release of the video on Sunday raised already high tensions in Akron over the shooting. A day after more than 100 protesters gathered just outside the city center, chanting and waving signs, protests continued with hundreds participating in a march and rally at City Hall hosted by the NAACP of Akron.
“It just keeps perpetuating the same thing over and over again,” said Chris Mercury, 41, an African-American hair salon owner in Akron. He added that people in the country would continue to think it was the person’s fault if it had happened.
“And at the end of the day,” said his wife, Monique, a fashion store owner, “the threat to people who were in the same position as Walker, the danger is immediate no matter what they do. .”
She added that “people of all races and walks of life need to realize this is happening, and it just seems to be getting worse.”
The Walker family urged the city not to resort to violence.
“If you can do anything for the family, please give peace, give dignity and give justice a chance for Jayland,” DiCello said Sunday. “My clients are individuals. Jayland was a deprived child. He was not married. He was not a criminal. He was visibly in pain. He didn’t deserve to die.
Kim Barker and Steve Eder contributed report.