Akron police shot unarmed 25-year-old Jayland Walker dozens of times after he fled from a traffic stop and led officers on a car, then foot chase, according to footage from police body cameras released Sunday.
Six days after Walker was gunned down early Monday morning, police released two videos of footage from the officers involved in the shooting, cut down into clips and still shots.
“No amount of grief or prayer will bring Jayland back,” Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan said during a news conference Sunday, describing himself as “beyond outraged, beyond shocked.”
But Police Chief Steve Mylett blamed Walker for turning a “routine traffic stop into a pursuit” when he fled the scene, then allegedly fired a gun out of his car’s door.
When he got out of the car and continued running on foot, Walker was allegedly wearing a ski mask, Mylett said Sunday.
Akron police officers said that they tried to pull Walker over around 12:30 a.m. Monday on an unspecified traffic violation. When he didn’t stop, a chase ensued, according to the Akron Police Department’s initial statement Tuesday.
Responding police also reported “a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle.”
The car chase continued for several minutes until Walker jumped out of his still-rolling car and led police on a foot race through a parking lot.
Officers, believing the man “posed a deadly threat to them,” fired dozens of times, first with Tasers and then guns.
When the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office arrived, Walker was handcuffed and lying on his back, with gunshots to the face, stomach and upper legs, according to a report obtained by the Akron Beacon Journal.
Police would not confirm the number of shots fired during Sunday’s news conference, but said that Walker’s body had at least 60 bullet holes, which likely include both entrance and exit wounds.
“They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” Walker’s family’s lawyer, Bobby DiCello, said Sunday after the videos were released.
DiCello also criticized the Akron Police Department for how officials released the bodycam footage, broken down into snippets and stills rather than the unedited videos.
A gun was found in Walker’s car but police have not confirmed that it was fired and DiCello has questioned that part of the police narrative, saying Sunday that the car was “intact” and showed no signs that a gun had been fired inside.
Images made public Sunday showed a handgun, magazine and a gold ring on the driver’s seat of Walker’s car, but Mylett confirmed that Walker was unarmed when he was shot repeatedly.
Mylett also said that a casing was found on the road where the first shot was fired that appeared to match the gun in Walker’s car.
The eight officers have not yet provided official statements to police, Mylett said Sunday.
“When an officer makes the most critical decision in his or her life as a police officer…to put their firearm at another human being and pull the trigger, they’ve got to be able to explain why they did what they did,” he said.
Police attempted first aid, according to Mylett, but first responders declared him dead at the scene.
Horrigan canceled the city’s Fourth of July celebrations as protests hit the streets, saying now “is not the time for a city-led celebration.”
Both police and Walker’s family’s lawyers have called for protests to stay peaceful to “honor his legacy and his community.”
At a news conference Thursday, Walker’s mother and sister were too emotional to speak, but relatives described him as a family man and hard worker who was working at an Amazon fulfillment center and as a delivery driver for DoorDash with dreams of starting his own delivery business. His girlfriend was killed in a car accident last month.
“We don’t treat animals that way,” attorney Paige White said. “Time and again, what we see across this country are white people who are able to commit crimes, to slaughter people and who live to tell the tale. Jayland Walker wasn’t able to do that.”
Eight Akron police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
“Any officers who fire 90 rounds at a Black man, for an alleged traffic violation, should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
“This wasn’t self-defense, it wasn’t an accident in the heat of the moment, it was murder. Point blank. This Black man was killed — struck more than 60 times by 90 fired bullets – for a possible traffic violation. This doesn’t happen to white people in America.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has taken over the investigation into the shooting and will then turn the case over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for review. The Akron Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards and Accountability is conducting its own investigation.