AKRON, Ohio — The mayor of Akron, Ohio, called video camera footage released by police “heartbreaking” and called for calm as he held a news conference about the death of Jayland Walker on Sunday afternoon.
Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett held a news conference and released body camera video related to the shooting death of Walker, 25, who was killed shortly after midnight on June 27 after an attempted traffic stop. Police released two videos during the news conference. One was narrated and edited to show key moments in the pursuit and eventual shooting.
The second video showed police surrounding the still-moving car and Walker as he fled, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported.
“I’ve talked about being beyond outraged and beyond shocked,” Horrigan told reporters. “The video you’re about to watch is heartbreaking.”
The footage showed Akron police firing a seconds-long stream of bullets at Walker, who was unarmed after fleeing his vehicle, The Plain Dealer reported.
Walker died at the scene after police provided first aid, Mylett said.
Akron police attempted to pull Walker over for an unspecified traffic stop at about 12:30 a.m. EDT on Monday but the chase turned into a foot pursuit, WEWS-TV reported.
“It went from being a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue,” Mylett said.
Police said in a statement earlier this week that Walker discharged a gun while he was driving, but did not specify how they knew that, The New York Times reported. After a few minutes, Walker slowed down his car and fled on foot wearing a ski mask while the vehicle was still moving. Officers then chased Walker into a parking lot, police said.
Mylett called the footage, which was blurred to obscure Walker, “difficult to watch” and “shocking.”
“When an officer makes the most critical decision in his or her life as a police officer, when they fire an arm at another human being, they have to be ready to explain why they did what they did -- they need to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing,” Mylett told reporters Sunday. “And that goes for every round that goes down the barrel of their gun. And they need to be held to account.”
It was not yet clear how many shots were fired, but Walker sustained more than 60 wounds, police said.
Capt. Dave Laughlin of the Akron Police Department said Walker’s actions “caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” WEWS reported. He said officers first used tasers and then opened fire in response, striking Walker multiple times and fatally wounding him.
An attorney for Walker’s family claimed that Walker was on the ground while officers continued to fire, according to The Associated Press.
A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the seat of the vehicle and a casing consistent with the weapon was later found, the news organization reported.
Warning: This video contains graphic images.
Bobby DiCello, who is representing the Walker family, told The Washington Post this weekend that eight officers fired more than 90 rounds at Walker, with more than 60 striking his body.
DiCello said he was unhappy with the way Akron officials presented information during Sunday’s news conference, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
“They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun. And we knew that,” DiCello told the newspaper.
Mylett offered condolences to Walker’s family and thanked them for their calls for peace.
“If Jayland reflects the character of this family, which I continually heard that he did, you raised a good son.”
Walker had one traffic ticket and no criminal record, according to the Times. In 2015, he graduated from Buchtel High School in Akron, where he was on the wrestling team. He was working as a driver for DoorDash and dreamed of one day opening his own business, DiCello told the newspaper.
“The family is still trying to wrap their arms around this. He was not that kid,” Robert DeJournett, pastor at St. Ashworth Temple in Akron told News 5. “Jayland didn’t even have a parking ticket ... Jayland had the biggest soul.”
“Jayland was a sweet young man. He never caused any trouble,” Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, Jayland’s aunt, told WEWS. “We don’t know what happened. And we’d like to know. For the mother, the sister, the whole family, and the community.”
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