Police in Akron, Ohio, have released disturbing body-camera footage showing the moment cops shot an unarmed 25-year-old Black man dozens of times as he fled.
“I won’t mince words, the video you are about to watch is heartbreaking,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan warned at a press conference Sunday. “I am urging all of our residents to please reserve your full judgment until our investigation is complete.”
The body-cam videos begin with officers pursuing Jayland Walker in their squad cars around 12:30 a.m. Monday after he refused to pull over for an alleged traffic violation. Police said that about 40 seconds after he fled, officers reported “the sound of a gunshot” coming out of his car door and a camera captured “a flash of light” on the driver’s side, turning the pursuit into “a public safety issue.”
The car chase lasted several more minutes before Walker, wearing a ski mask, got out of his silver Buick through the passenger-side door and fled on foot. Police said cops unsuccessfully tried to detain him with tasers and the chase continued to a nearby parking lot.
There, Walker “quickly turned toward the pursing officers,” and eight cops unleashed a barrage of gunfire on him, police said. The harrowing footage shows Walker quickly crumple to the ground as countless shots ring out.
Police Chief Stephen Mylett confirmed Sunday that Walker was “unarmed” when he was killed. Cops found a hand gun, a loaded magazine, and a gold ring in the driver’s seat of his car.
Mylett conceded that the dark, grainy footage makes it somewhat difficult to make out Walker’s precise movements but said that he thinks one photo suggests he was “going down to his waist area,” while he appears to be turning around in another image.
“Each officer independent of each other related that they felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was motioning and moving into a firing position,” he said.
Walker still had a pulse as the officers tried to load him into the police car, Mylett added. He couldn’t say how many bullets were fired, but Walker had at least 60 wounds in his body.
Acknowledging how horrific the footage was, Horrigan urged residents to protest peacefully.
“I fully support our residents right to peacefully assemble,” the mayor said at the press conference. “But I hope the community can agree that violence and destruction are not the answer.”
Protests started almost immediately after the videos’ release, with scores of hundreds of demonstrators gathering throughout Akron to condemn the department’s actions.
Since Walker’s June 27 killing, the eight Akron police officers involved have been placed on paid leave and the city has canceled its Fourth of July festivities. Protesters have surrounded city buildings, demanding justice and the release of the body camera footage.
The Walker family’s lawyers said they were livid with how police presented the videos on Sunday, insisting he was portrayed as a villain in their descriptions of the footage. Bobby DiCello, the lead attorney representing the family, said Mylett was an “armchair quarterback,” using “snapshots in time” as he picked apart the footage.
“They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” DiCello said.
His colleague Ken Abbarno echoed that sentiment, urging the police to be more transparent with what happened during Walker’s pursuit.
“The officers will need to account for every single action that they did,” Abbarno said. “We live in a society where we can never see this happen again.”
DiCello said he died after being shot nearly 100 times, and they’ve demanded police take witness statements from the officers involved in the shooting. The officers have not been named.
“The Walker family is praying for peace, they are asking for peace, they are praying for accountability,” Abbarno said after the footage was released Sunday afternoon. “We cannot villainize Jayland.”
“We are done dying like this,” another attorney, Paige White, said. “Nobody should ever suffer the fate that Jayland Walker did.”