Watch: Ohio police repeatedly fired at unarmed Jayland Walker, footage shows
Police in Ohio shot an unarmed black man 60 times, his lawyers said on Sunday as footage of the killing threatened to trigger major unrest.
Protesters took to the streets in Akron – a city of about 200,000 people near Cleveland – after the shooting following a police traffic stop.
Jayland Walker, 25, died after officers unleashed more than 90 bullets at him last Monday, with 60 hitting him, his lawyer said after reviewing the autopsy and bodycam videos.
A number of officers have been placed on paid administrative leave and, fearing violence, Akron city officials scrapped July 4 celebrations.
It comes as America is still reeling from recent mass shootings and gun rights have been pushed to the fore by the Supreme Court allowing people to carry arms in public. The shooting comes two years after the killing of George Floyd triggered global protests.
According to Akron Police, officers gave chase after Mr Walker refused to stop when told to pull over. They added that he had fired a shot fired from his car – a claim disputed by his family’s lawyers.
“What was going to be a routine traffic stop which would have probably ended in a citation turned into a pursuit,” said Steve Mylett, the Akron police chief, last night as two sets of bodycam footage were released.
One video appeared to show a muzzle flash coming from the car. A gun and a magazine were found in the seat of Mr Walker’s vehicle.
Footage showed a high-speed chase and then police rushing after Mr Walker as he ran into the car park. Then a number of officers fire repeatedly at Mr Walker, although a detailed sequence of events leading to their opening fire is still unclear.
Police appear to have initially used Tasers.
“I’ve watched it at least 40 times. When you see it in real time, it's very hard to distinguish what Mr Walker is doing,” added Mr Mylett, admitting the victim was found to be unarmed after the killing.
He added: “In the still photos, there's a picture that appears to all of us that Mr Walker is going down to his waist area.
“There was a photograph in which it appears Mr Walker was turning towards the officer and there was a picture that captures a forward motion of his arm.”
‘I’ve never seen anything like this’
Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for the family who has seen footage of the incident, told the New York Times: “I’ve been a trial lawyer for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything remotely close to what that video is going to show.”
He added that Mr Walker was not making any threatening gestures when the police started firing.
“Imagine a person running away and starting to turn to look back behind them as one is running and it’s at that point that the gunshots erupt.”
He also questioned police allegations Mr Walker had fired at the officers.
“The rear windshield is intact; the front windshield is intact, and all side windows are intact.
“There’s no call, there’s no report that we’ve seen and there’s been no mention by the chief in personal discussions with him that a gun was seen outside the car, waving at or being pointed at anyone.”
Watch: Jayland Walker's family comments following Akron Police press conference
Pastor Roderick Pounds, who has also seen the video, said he saw no evidence of Mr Walker firing a gun. “He is actually running away from the police and not posing any physical threat.”
In a matter of seconds, Mr Pounds added, Mr Walker was “shot like an animal”.
Victim had no criminal record
Mr Walker, who worked as a driver for DoorDash, did not have a criminal record. His sole transgression was one parking ticket.
“He was my skinny little nephew,” said Mr Walker’s aunt, Lajuna Walker Dawkins. “He never caused any trouble.”
Feelings were running high in Akron following the shooting, with Black Lives Matter planning a series of protests.
It was just the latest in a series of incidents in which black men have been shot by police.
According to data compiled by the non-profit Mapping Police Violence last year, black people, who represent 13 per cent of the population, accounted for 27 per cent of fatal shootings by law enforcement last year.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, three police officers were shot dead and five wounded in Allen, a small town with a population of 166.
The officers were trying to issue a warrant on a man accused of domestic violence.
John Hunt, the Floyd County sherriff, said the officer faced “pure hell” when they arrived at the man’s home, running into a barrage of gunfire. A 49-year-old man has been taken into custody.