Akron, Ohio – In the wake of a fatal shooting incident involving a Black man, Jayland Walker, the city of Akron has implemented a downtown curfew and canceled a fireworks display as investigations continue. Disturbing videos released on Sunday depict officers converging on Walker’s vehicle after a chase, with the footage capturing the tragic moment he was shot. The Akron Police Department has come under scrutiny for firing numerous rounds, resulting in approximately 60 wounds on Walker’s body. This incident has sparked outrage and led to calls for accountability. Here are the latest updates on the case.
Investigation and Video Footage
Akron police released video footage on Sunday that shows the events leading up to the shooting of Jayland Walker. The footage reveals officers surrounding Walker’s silver Buick at the conclusion of the pursuit. As Walker exits the vehicle wearing a ski mask, Police Chief Stephen Mylett claims that he made a movement toward his waist during the subsequent foot chase and briefly turned toward the officers. In response, the officers opened fire.
Medical examiners discovered approximately 60 wounds on Walker’s body, though the exact number of shots fired is still under investigation. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting the probe at the request of the Akron Police Department. As a result, the eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.
Public Outcry and Demands for Accountability
The Akron chapter of the NAACP organized a rally in downtown Akron on Sunday afternoon, drawing hundreds of participants. The rally aimed to protest against the fatal shooting and demand justice for Walker. The crowd, estimated to be around 1,000 people, marched towards City Hall, holding homemade signs and chanting slogans such as “No more dying.” Black lawmakers, including city and state representatives, addressed the gathering, expressing their concerns and calling for accountability.
Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan appealed for calm and patience while the investigation proceeds. Horrigan described the released video as “heartbreaking” and acknowledged the need for a thorough examination of the incident. Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP, issued a statement urging that the officers involved in the shooting be held accountable, categorizing the incident as murder.
Unarmed During the Shooting
Although a gun was visible on the front seat of Walker’s car in the video footage, Chief Mylett stated that Walker was unarmed as he fled from the vehicle and ran away from the police. Questions have arisen regarding whether the officers overreacted to the perceived threat. Mylett refrained from passing judgment until the investigation is concluded. He emphasized that when an officer points a gun at someone, they must be prepared to justify their actions for every bullet fired.
Federal Monitoring and Independent Investigation
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office declared Walker’s death a homicide, citing multiple gunshot wounds. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the local FBI field office are closely monitoring the circumstances surrounding Walker’s death. The Justice Department has stated that it will take appropriate action if evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes.
Attorney Bobby DiCello, representing Walker’s family, described the video as “brutal” and anticipates that it will evoke strong emotions. The police department decided to release all available footage of the shooting, exceeding the legally required videos to be disclosed within one week. Prior to its release, the footage was shown to Walker’s family.
Questions Regarding Pursuit Justification
Experts in criminal justice and policing have highlighted several unanswered questions raised by the video footage. The videos alone do not provide a complete understanding of crucial moments during the shooting, such as the officers’ decision to switch from using a taser to employing lethal force. Additionally, it remains unclear what prompted the significant volume of gunfire directed at Walker, who was unarmed at the time.
Policing experts argue that the video fails to reveal whether Walker posed a threat to others, including the police, during the pursuit. The determination of whether any charges will be filed depends on whether the officers reasonably believed that their lives or the lives of others were in danger at that particular moment. The independent investigation is expected to shed light on these concerns.
Community Impact and Event Cancellations
In response to this tragic incident, Akron has decided to cancel the Rib, White, & Blue Festival, initially scheduled to take place from Friday through the Fourth of July. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan expressed understanding for the disappointment caused by this decision but emphasized that it is not an appropriate time for a city-led celebration.
The release of video footage depicting the shooting of Jayland Walker has prompted a public outcry in Akron, Ohio. The incident has raised serious questions about police conduct and the use of lethal force. As investigations proceed, community leaders, civil rights organizations, and legal representatives are demanding accountability and justice for Walker’s untimely death. The independent investigation, along with the monitoring by federal agencies, will play a crucial role in uncovering the truth behind this tragic incident.