Police officials in Akron, Ohio on Sunday (July 3) released officer body-camera footage of Jayland Walker, who was killed in a hail of 60 bullets fired by eight officers. The 25-year-old man was reportedly unarmed as he exited his vehicle and fled from cops during a traffic stop.
Police say they believe a single gunshot came from the vehicle Walker was in prior to an on-foot pursuit, according to CBS News. Police on Sunday released footage of the shooting that has raised questions about training, the use of excessive force, and racial profiling. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan called the shooting “heartbreaking,” while also pleading for peace and patience as state investigators look into the shooting, which have sparked protests throughout the city.
According to WOIO-TV, hundreds of protesters marched in peace on Sunday, however as day turned to night, police fired tear gas as people marched. At around 10 p.m., someone reportedly set a dumpster on fire before a good Samaritan put it out.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Walker’s death wasn’t self-defense, but “murder. Point blank.”
“This Black man was killed – struck more than 60 times by 90 fired bullets – for a possible traffic violation. This doesn’t happen to white people in America. Why do police continuously target us like domestic terrorists? We are just trying to live our lives, and we are tired of being hunted like prey,” said Johnson, according to The Guardian.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said the incident began began when officers attempted to stop Walker’s car for unspecified traffic and equipment violations, however less than a minute into a pursuit the sound of a shot was heard from the car and a transportation department camera captured what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle Walker was in. Mylett claims this turned the case from “a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue.”
A few minutes later, police say the car slowed down with Walker emerging from the still-moving vehicle wearing a ski mask and fleeing on foot. A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were discovered on a seat in the vehicle.
The video shows Walker being shot by officers continuously once he reached a parking lot. Mylett says that while Walker’s actions at the time are hard to distinguish, a still photo seems to show him “going down to his waist area” and another appears to show him turning toward an officer and a third “captures a forward motion of his arm.”
"Each officer independent of each other related that they felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was motioning and moving into a firing position," Mylett added.
During the Sunday afternoon press conference, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, along with Mylett and Walker’s family called for peaceful protests and patience.
"When an officer makes the most critical decision in his or her life as a police officer, it doesn't matter where in the country this happens, when they make that most critical decision to point their firearm at another human being and pull the trigger, they've got to be ready to explain why they did what they did," Mylett said, according to ABC News. "They need to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing, and that goes for every round that goes down the barrel of their gun."
Mylett also expressed his “deepest sympathies to Jayland’s family” and apologized for their loss.
"I cannot imagine the sense of loss, the pain they are going through right now," Mylett said. "I want to personally thank you for the way in which you have been dealing with this situation. You have asked for peace in an environment that is rife for aggression and violence. If Jayland reflects the character of this family, which I continually heard that he did, you raised a good son."
Akron police officials say the fatal incident happened at around 12:30 a.m. on June 27 in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. Despite the shooting occurring a week ago, Mylett said none of the officers have been interviewed by investigators. He added that the police union president has assured him that all of the officers involved will fully cooperate. They are all currently on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation being led by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.