AKRON, Ohio — Akron Police released horrific body-cam footage as well as additional details about the police shooting of Jayland Walker during a press conference on Sunday that included condolences from city officials and pleas for calm and patience as an independent investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation proceeds.
Mayor Dan Horrigan, Marco Sommerville, the city’s deputy mayor for intergovernmental affairs, and Police Chief Steve Mylett struck a somber, apologetic tone and praised the Walker family’s pleas for peace in the wake of Jayland Walker's death.
Because of a new city ordinance that was put into place last year, Akron was required to release the body camera video within seven days. The department had to release three videos but released them all.
“I won't mince words, the video you are about to watch is heartbreaking,” Horrigan said.
WARNING: These videos include images and video that viewers may find graphic and/or disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Watch the press conference:
Watch the raw body-cam footage released by police:
Legal representatives for Walker’s family spoke afterward and called for accountability while emphasizing that Walker was unarmed at the moment he was shot. Police did not reveal how many times Walker was shot, but body-cam footage showed an intense seven-second burst of gunfire, which came from eight still unnamed officers, that the medical examiner says produced 60 wounds.
“We are done dying like this,” said attorney Paige White, “in this manner, with this fate. No one should ever suffer the fate that Jayland Walker did.”
The Walker family attorneys voiced concern about the timetable of the investigation, specifically that it's one week later, and officers still have not given statements to BCI, as far as they know. Witness statements are best taken right after an event, they said.
Attorneys also raised questions about where Walker's gun, found unloaded, was located. They heard from BCI it was in the back seat, but photos released today showed the gun, a magazine and a ring in the front seat. Attorney Kenneth Abbarno said Walker did not have a lot of experience with firearms. He said it is unknown who owned the ring or where it came from.
Watch the family's lawyers speak:
Police showed reporters a narrated video of specific moments during the pursuit and shooting, including, near the start of the pursuit, what looks like a muzzle flash captured on an ODOT camera that police say occurred while what sounds like a gunshot is captured on body-cam.
Police say they found a shell casing at that spot consistent with the type of weapon later found in Walker’s vehicle. An independent investigation is underway to confirm, among many other things, whether that casing came from Walker’s weapon.
Mylett said this was the moment a traffic stop escalated into a threat to public safety. The chief did not know, specifically, why the traffic stop was initiated, saying it’s part of the investigation.
On the night of the shooting, police said Walker’s actions following the pursuit after he left his vehicle "caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat” to police in the moment before he was shot. As the body-cam footage was shown in real-time during the press conference, it was difficult to see the motion Walker made that caused police to feel threatened. Mylett later said that still photos taken from the video of that moment reveal Walker making a forward motion.
“When you see it in real time, it’s hard to distinguish what Mr. Walker is doing,” Mylett said.
Walker was unarmed.
He was wearing a ski mask when he exited the vehicle.
Regarding the ski mask, attorney Bobby DiCello said that he did not have an explanation for why Walker was wearing it. He said it was "bizarre" but "not lethal behavior."
The bodycam confirms a Taser was deployed before shots were fired.
Officials did not say how many shots police fired.
Mylett said officers performed First Aid. Field medics arrived and took over care, but Walker died at the scene.
According to Mylett, the officers are on administrative leave, which is standard, and are cooperating with the investigation, but they have not given statements yet.
Akron Police shared materials with reporters afterward revealing:
- Seven of the eight officers were men, and one was a woman
- Seven of the officers were white, and one was Black
- The officer with the most experience had six years
- No previous disciplinary complaints before nor fatal shootings for the eight officers
A planned protest in downtown Akron followed the two press conferences.
You can watch the start of that protest here:
What we know about the shooting
Captain Dave Laughlin, of the Akron Police Department, said it all started after midnight Monday when two officers were trying to stop a car on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.
Within a few seconds of being on Route 8, officers said a firearm was discharged from Walker’s vehicle.
Officers pursued him down Route 8 and I-77 where he exited into the Firestone Park Area before jumping out and fleeing on foot, heading northbound through a grassy area into a parking lot at Bridgestone.
According to Laughlin, Walker's actions "caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them," and officers first used Tasers and then opened fire in response, striking Walker multiple times and fatally wounding him.
Laughlin said officers didn’t see a weapon but heard a gunshot or multiple gunshots from the car on the entrance ramp of Route 8.
Preliminary medical examiner records reveal disturbing images from Jayland Walker’s autopsy, including more than 60 markers indicating "defects" on Walker's body that may be gunshot wounds from bullets fired by Akron Police officers.
The documents showed there were multiple gunshot wounds to Walker’s face, abdomen and upper legs.
Closer examination of the thumbnail-size photos appears to show Walker took a bullet under his left eye and below his chin.
News 5 also counted dozens of pictures of bullet fragments.
The records revealed Walker was found on his back on the pavement in handcuffs.
Police shot and killed Walker in a parking lot less than 100 feet from the road.
His car hit the church across the street.
Medical examiner records show a gun was found inside the car.
“From the time they called out it out about four and a half minutes,” said Laughlin.
Who was Jayland Walker?
A pastor and family member of Walker said that he was a good person.
"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,” said Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, Jayland’s aunt and the representative who spoke on behalf of the family Thursday. “We don’t know what happened. And we’d like to know. For the mother, the sister, the whole family, and the community.
Akron Public Schools confirmed that Walker was a 2015 graduate of the John R. Buchtel Community Learning Center, a high school in Akron.
YouTube video posted by the school shows Walker winning a wrestling match in the 2014 Bill Dies Tournament.
Statement from the city
On Wednesday, Horrigan and Mylett released a joint statement offering sincere condolences to those who knew Walker and saying more information about what happened will be forthcoming soon.
“We know that no police officer ever wants to discharge their service weapon in the line of duty. And anytime they must, it's a dark day for our city, for the families of those involved, as well as for the officers. Tragically, we are once again faced with a young man, with his life before him, gone too soon. Every single life is precious, and the loss of any life is absolutely devastating to our entire community. Our prayers are with Jayland Walker’s loved ones, and we offer our sincere condolences to all those who knew him. Our thoughts are also with our Akron police officers and their families.
"We want to reassure our citizens that more information will be coming in the following days, including the body-worn camera footage that recorded this incident. We are keeping our promise to the community, understanding that there can be no trust without transparency and follow-through on commitment.
"We have every confidence in the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct a thorough, fair, and honest investigation. We will cooperate fully with that investigation and have made it a top priority for our staffs. As a city, we are committed to this process and trust that it will yield a fuller understanding of this incident.”
Protests, canceled events
A handful of protesters have been demonstrating outside the Akron Police headquarters every day since Wednesday.
Stating that "I feel strongly that this is not the time for a city-led celebration," Mayor Horrigan announced Thursday that the city's "Rib, White and Blue" Fourth of July celebration has been canceled.
Horrigan also canceled his appearance at an event to dedicate the Kenmore South Alley as Virgil Lay Way to kick off the Kenmore First Friday event, according to a news release from the city. A reason for the canceled appearance was not provided.
The Akron Municipal Court was closed Friday, July 1, though a reason for the closure was not provided in the city communication.
Calls for answers, accountability
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, members of Walker's family and lawyers representing them spoke to the media, demanding answers and accountability from Akron police while calling for peace and calm from the public at large.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has taken over the investigation of Walker’s shooting death at the request of Akron Police, marking the first time the department has requested an outside agency investigate a deadly use of force involving one of its own officers.
BCI has assisted on the crime scene in 16 Akron cases since 2017, the Beacon Journal reports, and the department has only asked the state to take the lead once, in a 2017 case involving a mentally ill man shot and killed by Stow officer.
The BCI investigation of Walker’s death will involve the collection of evidence to be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for presentation to a Summit County grand jury.
Mylett said he need to balance his duty to provide information to the public with the need to not interfere with BCI’s investigation.
“The public is relying on them,” he said of BCI.
He told the Beacon Journal that he is concerned about the potential public backlash to Walker’s death, especially once the video is released. He said he knows there will be lots of questions about what happened and why.
“The public’s going to have questions,” Mylett said. “I’ve got questions. We’re going to rely on BCI to get the answers."
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