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19-year-old shot by Akron officers was unarmed but took 'shooting stance,' police say

Police present body cam footage to clear up misinformation
Scene of officer-involved shooting in Akron.
Akron OIS shooting 2.jpg
Posted at 10:35 AM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 19:09:46-05

AKRON, Ohio — Elijah Cade, the 19-year-old who was shot by Akron police officers in January, was unarmed at the time of the shooting, police said in a news conference on Friday.

Akron police released bodycam footage of the Jan. 7 shooting to clear up misinformation about the incident, said Akron Police Chief Kenneth Ball.

Akron police during news conference.

The video, which was played in segments with text and photos, started with an officer’s body-worn camera from the passenger seat of a cruiser.

Officers attempted to make a traffic stop on a vehicle without plates, later determined to be driven by Cade.

Instead of stopping, the vehicle took off. At one point during the 1.5-mile chase, speeds reached up to 90 mph.

As the vehicle proceeded southbound on Manchester Road, an Akron police patrol supervisor canceled the pursuit at approximately 1 minute, 19 seconds into the pursuit. At this time, officers also recorded that less than three seconds later the vehicle crashed at the intersection of Manchester Road and Kenmore Boulevard.

At the crash scene, officers saw Cade slumped over the vehicle that was filled with powder released from the deployed steering wheel airbag.

Dashcam video showed several officers surrounding the vehicle.

One officer noticed Cade’s eyes had opened and officers issued commands to not move.

Cade exited the vehicle and fled from officers. Ball said two officers heard Cade say “Where’s my gun at.”

Cade ran for about 50 feet before he turned around towards officers with his hands near his waist, in a shooting stance, Ball said.

Akron OIS shooting 2.jpg

“Three officers separately perceived a threat of harm or death and fired their service weapons. This series of events occurred in a couple of seconds and included the suspect’s flight, rapid turn, assumption of a shooting posture, the officer’s perception of a deadly threat and their response of shots fired to protect their safety and that of others on the scene,” Ball said.

Three officers fired a combined five shots, with two shots hitting Cade.

Akron OIS shooting 1.jpg

When asked if there was concern of public reaction and scrutiny, particularly of a shooting involving an unarmed black man, Ball said, “Certainly we are concerned that is why we are here today and that’s why this process hasn’t taken the shape or form as it has in other instances. We knew the video was going to be released because it’s not something fully under our control until the point it’s made public through a public’s record’s request or obtained by a defense team.”

"These officers relied on their training and experience when responding to the actions of the suspect. The body worn camera video clearly shows the officers reacted appropriately and within the law," the Fraternal Order of Police, Akron Lodge #7, said in a statement.

Read their full statement here.

Three officers were involved in the incident. One officer has almost thirteen years of service and the other two officers have almost two years of service. Per departmental procedure, the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Cade's family released this statement Friday:

After a month of review and edit the Akron Police have released a PORTION of the video involving our teenage son. Our teenage son was unresponsive after the crash and airbag deploy. Elijah attempted to pull his pants up then he was shot. We still have no answers why a minor traffic violation required a high speed chase and ended in another unarmed young man being shot by the police. Traffic violations should not result in gunshots.
Fred & Helena Cade, Parents of Elijah Cade
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Elijah Cade | Photo courtesy of the Cade family

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