AKRON, Ohio – Local officials plan to release on Sunday camera footage of surrounding events. Police shot dead 25-year-old man — a death that shook the city, caused activities to be canceled on July 4, and sparked outrage from racial justice advocates.
Jayland Walker, who was black, died early Monday morning in the parking lot of a Bridgestone tire facility south of downtown Akron, after police said he fled a traffic stop and fire a shot in a car chase.
Attorneys representing Walker’s family allege on Thursday that police fired dozens of shots, shooting Walker in the face, stomach, arms and legs.
Walker’s family describes him as a loving family member who aspires to start his own delivery business. He works at an Amazon fulfillment center and is a delivery driver for DoorDash, the family said. As a high school student, Walker was a popular wrestler at Buchtel High School.
The full body video footage will be released soon a 1:00 p.m. press conference on Sunday in which Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Sheriff Steve Mylett will provide more details on Walker’s death, according to a city news release.
Mylett will meet with members of the Walker family and their legal representatives prior to the press conference to allow them to review the footage.
Cities and other organizations are opting in cancel and postpone several events in the city center amid protests and anticipating escalating tensions.
Akron police did not say how many officers shot at Walker, only that multiple officers were at the scene. The ministry also did not say how many officials have been placed on paid administrative leave.
The preliminary medical examiner’s report said a gun was found in Walker’s vehicle. Officials have not said whether Walker was carrying a gun when he was shot dead.
The Ohio Department of Criminal Investigation, which was asked to take over the investigation, also did not respond to questions about the case this week.
“Jayland Walker – I’ll say his name over and over again – Jayland Walker is someone’s son. Jayland Walker is someone’s grandson. Jayland Walker is an individual. He was not just another black man to be killed,” said Akron NAACP President Judi Hill, who was asked by the family to speak on Thursday.
Traffic stops become chase
Police said Monday’s incident began when Walker drove off after officers tried to stop him for a motor vehicle violation around 12:30 a.m. in the North Hill neighborhood of Akron. Walker drove up the highway, and police said he fired a shot from inside the vehicle.
Ken Abbarno, the family’s attorney, said he believes seven white officers and one black officer shot at Walker.
Traffic footage released by the Ohio Department of Transportation shows a cruiser chasing Walker on a highway at about 12:31 a.m. Monday. A second cruiser appeared later.
From a camera overlooking Akron’s I-77, 10 cruisers could be seen closely following Walker at 12:35 a.m.
According to police, Walker drove up Interstate 77 and then entered the Firestone Park neighborhood, where he jumped out of his still-moving vehicle and ran. Police said they chased him while walking into the parking lot and they shot him after saying he made a “death threat.”
Walker was handcuffed on the ground and pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 1am
The chase lasted about four and a half minutes.
Families demand accountability
The family held a press conference on Thursday at a local church, where they demanded accountability from the Akron police, and called for peace, understanding and justice.
“I stand before you with a family that is heartbroken, devastated, confused and looking for answers. There are no words to describe what this family is going through.” Paige White, an attorney for the family said.
The family also asked why the police, who said officers used stun guns before firing their weapons, did not escalate the situation.
The family has asked their attorney to notify the police that they will settle for justice and accountability. And they asked Walker not to be filmed in anything other than a “good man” like him.
“I know many people who like to say their loved ones are good,” says Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, who Walker calls “Aunt Mini.” “But it is true.
“We want you to know who Jayland is. We don’t want him to be portrayed as some kind of thug,” the aunt said of the “thin little grandchild” she misses so much.
Before his death, he was engaged to Jaymeisha Beasley, who was killed in Mayon on a highway outside Cincinnati after being hit and run off by a driver following a car crash. The driver has yet to be found.
Protesters gather in downtown Akron
Monday’s shooting has led to protests, with the city blocking traffic in downtown areas.
Failure from the incident spilled over into downtown on Thursday, when a protest unrelated to Walker’s immediate family blocked traffic outside the police station and city court. Judges have postponed hearings, some city and county officials have closed or reduced operations, and the mayor has canceled Rib, White, and Blue events and other downtown events. downtown on July 4 this weekend, says now is not the time to celebrate.
Contributors: Doug Livingston, Akron Beacon Journal; Related press.
Follow Jim Mackinnon on Twitter @JimMackinnonABJ.