Video released Sunday shows eight officers in Akron, Ohio, involved in a shooting that killed an unarmed Black man, whose body was found with about 60 wounds after he ran away from a traffic station last week.
Police played several videos at a news conference, one of which said they showed a gunshot being fired from a car driven by 25-year-old Jayland Walker.
It remains unclear how many shots were fired by officers involved in the shooting, but Walker suffered more than 60 injuries. An attorney for Walker’s family said Walker was on the ground while officers continued to open fire.
Police Chief Steve Mylett said officers attempted to stop Walker’s vehicle early Monday for a traffic violation and unidentified equipment, but less than a minute into the pursuit, voices were heard. gun from the car. A transport ministry camera captured what appeared to be a flash of light from the muzzle of the vehicle.
Police said a few minutes later, the vehicle slowed down and Walker emerged from the moving vehicle, donned a ski mask, and fled.
Authorities said a handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the seat and a sheath matching the weapon was later found at what officers believe a gun shot from the car.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use the stun device, the foot chase continued to a parking lot, at which point a volley of bullets could be heard on the video.
(WARNING: video contains graphic scenes)
Walker’s family attorney, Bobby DiCello, told reporters on Sunday he was “very concerned” about police allegations that Walker shot officers from his car, and stressed there was no reason any justification for his violent death.
“They wanted to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” DiCello said. “I ask you, when he’s running away, what makes sense? To shoot him? No, that’s not reasonable.”
Actions ‘difficult to distinguish’
Mylett said he had watched the video dozens of times and it was difficult to discern Walker’s actions, but one still image appeared to show him “going down to the waist” and another appeared to show him turned toward an officer, and the third photo “captures the forward movement of the arm.”
After the shooting, the officers who fired the shots were kept separate and investigators arrived to lead them one by one through the scene, Myett said.
“Each officer was independent of the other in relation to the other that they felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was gesturing and moving into firing position,” he said.
Mylett said an officer who shoots someone has to be “ready to explain why they did what they did, they need to be able to articulate what specific threats they are facing. .. and they need to be held accountable.”
But he said he is withholding judgment on their actions until they release their statement. He said the union president had told him all were “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Police said more than 60 injuries were found on the body but further investigation will be needed to determine exactly how many bullets the eight officers fired and how many times Walker was hit. Officers provided assistance, and people could be heard saying he still had a pulse, Mylett said, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost vowed to conduct a “complete, fair and professional” investigation. He cautioned that “body-worn camera footage is just one view of the whole – before a conclusion can be drawn, a full review must be carried out.”
The officers involved in the shooting were given paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases.
Calling for police accountability
Walker’s family is calling for accountability but also peace, their attorney said after the city released video of the shooting.
DiCello said gunfire from police occurred even as Walker lay on the ground, and police handcuffed him before attempting first aid.
“How it came to this with a chase is beyond my control,” DiCello said, adding that Walker’s family has no idea why he was on the run from police.
Walker is grieving the recent death of his fiancée, but his family shows no signs of worrying about it, DiCello said.
“He was very upset, but he got through it,” DiCello said. He said he did not know if the ring found near the gun belonged to Walker.
“He’s not a criminal,” DiCello said. “Obviously he’s in a lot of pain. He doesn’t deserve to die.”
DiCello called the police shooting excessive and unreasonable. “I hope we remember that when Jayland ran across that parking lot, he was unarmed,” DiCello said.
Protesters marched through the city and gathered in front of the Akron Justice Center after the video was released. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Walker’s death “was a homicide. Just blank.”
The shooting is the latest in a series of black murders by law enforcement in the United States that critics say is racist and unjustified, including the murder of George Floyd last year. 2020 in Minneapolis, sparking global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.