AKRON, Ohio — On Sunday Akron, Ohio police released body camera video of an officer involved shooting of a 25-year-old unarmed Black man during a pursuit last week.
According to Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett, around 12:30 a.m. on June 27 officers attempted to stop a driver, later identified as Jayland Walker, for unspecified traffic and equipment violations. Mylett said the driver refused to pull over and a chase ensued.
According to Mylett, within less than a minute of the pursuit, the sound of a gunshot was heard from the car Walker was driving. A transportation department camera reviewed by authorities later showed what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle. Mylett said that changed the nature of the case from “a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue.”
A few minutes later the car slowed down and Walker jumped out wearing a ski mask. Officers continued the pursuit on foot. Officers attempted to taser Walker but were unsuccessful, Mylett said. The chase continued into a parking lot where eight officers opened fire on Walker.
A medical examiner’s report said more than 60 wounds were found on Walker’s body. Walker died from multiple gunshot wounds to the face, abdomen and upper legs, CNN affiliate WEWS reported, citing findings by its media partner, the Akron Beacon Journal.
Mylett said, after watching the video dozens of times, he could not make out what Walker was doing before he was shot. However, a still image of Walker seems to show him “going down to his waist area” and another appears to show him turning towards an officer and a third picture “captures a forward motion of his arm”, Mylett said.
Walker was unarmed at the time he was shot, Mylett confirmed Sunday. A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the seat of his car and a casing consistent with the weapon was later found at the point where officers believed a shot came from the vehicle.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, which is investigating the fatal shooting, has yet to confirm the number of times Walker was shot, Mylett said, and it’s still not known how many rounds were fired.
“However, based on the video, I anticipate that number to be high,” he said. “A lot of rounds were fired.”
After the shooting, the officers who fired were kept apart from each other and watched, and arriving investigators walked them individually through the scene, Myett said.
“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.
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases.
Mylett said the city welcomes peaceful protests but is prepared if demonstrations turn violent.
“We have developed an operations plan to manage and to provide safe space in this city for people to protest,” Mylett said. “And in case that it turns to a situation where it’s no longer peaceful, we have an operations plan in place for that as well, and I’m not going to discuss any of the details about that.”
Walker’s family is calling for accountability but also for peace, their lawyers said after the city released the video of the shooting. One of the attorneys, Bobby DiCello, said gunfire from police occurred even after Walker was on the ground, and that police handcuffed him before trying to provide first aid.
The Walker family urged the city not to resort to violence.
“If you can do anything for the family, please give peace, give dignity and give justice a chance for Jayland,” DiCello said on Sunday. “My clients are private people. Jayland was a private kid. He wasn’t married. He wasn’t a criminal. He obviously was in pain. He didn’t deserve to die.”