AKRON, Ohio – Authorities released a “heartbreaking” video on Sunday of the fatal shooting of black motorist Jayland Walker in a hail of bullets, minutes after Akron police said he had fled a traffic jam last week.
The eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave and the city has canceled the four-day festival on July 4 as stunned residents and city leaders await the results of an investigation into Walker’s death.
Videos released on Sunday show officers congregating on Walker’s silver Buick at the end of a chase. Walker apparently gets out of the car wearing a ski mask, and Police Chief Stephen Mylett said it appeared as though Walker reached for his waist during a chase and turned briefly to the officers. They opened fire.
Mylett said the coroner found about 60 wounds on Walker’s body, although the exact number of shots has not been determined.
The chief said that when the shooting stopped, officers immediately tried to care for Walker, but he died at the scene. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting the investigation at the request of the Akron Police Department.
WHAT WE KNOW:Fatal Akron Police Shoot Jayland Walker
Hundreds gathered in downtown on Sunday afternoon for a rally hosted by the Akron branch of the NAACP. Many carried homemade signs and chanted “No more die” as they marched to City Hall. Black lawmakers, including city and state representatives, spoke to the crowd that grew to an estimated 1,000.
Mayor Daniel Horrigan called for calm and patience during the investigation. “The video is heartbreaking, it’s hard to take in,” Horrigan said.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson issued a statement saying the officers involved must be held accountable.
“This wasn’t self-defense, it wasn’t an accident in the heat of battle, it was murder. Point blank,” Johnson said. “This black man was killed — hit more than 60 times by 90 fired bullets — for a possible traffic violation. This is not happening to white people in America.”
Did Jayland Walker shoot the police?
Video showed a gun in the front seat of Walker’s car, and Mylett said video appeared to show the flash of a gun from the car during the chase. But he was apparently unarmed when he fled the car and ran from the police, the chief said.
At a news conference Sunday, Mylett was asked if officers overreacted to the perceived threat.
“It was difficult to watch and shocking,” Mylett said, adding that “I will not pass judgment” until the investigation is completed. But he said that when an officer “makes the most crucial decision of his or her life” to point a gun at someone, they must be prepared not only to explain the shooting, but to “walk through the barrel of the gun”.
‘HE WAS EXCLUDED, UNDERMANNED’:Akron Leaders Condemn Jayland Walker Shooting
Mylett praised the Walker family for calling for peaceful demonstrations.
Police said it released all footage of Monday’s shooting, rather than just the legally required ones, within a week of the footage first being shown to Walker’s family.
Ministry of Justice keeps an eye on shooting
The Summit County Medical Research Bureau said Walker died of multiple gunshot wounds and ruled it a homicide. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI’s field office in Akron were “closely monitoring the circumstances surrounding Walker’s death,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“The FBI continues to work with state and local partners to provide resources and specialized skills,” the statement added. “If the evidence reveals possible violations of federal criminal laws, the Justice Department will take appropriate action.”
Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for Walker’s family, called the video “brutal.”
“It’ll spark some passion. It’ll make people uncomfortable,” DiCello said prior to the video’s release.
‘NO MORE DIE:Akron, Ohio, protesters gather to protest the death of Jayland Walker
Police said Walker, a 25-year-old DoorDash driver, refused to stop his car and fired at officers during a chase. Officers at the scene said Walker jumped from his moving vehicle and created a “deadly threat” that caused officers to use stun guns, which failed, and then firearms.
Walker was found lying on his back handcuffed when a coroner arrived at the scene, according to an investigative worksheet for the case shown to the Beacon Journal at the coroner’s office. Walker had been shot in the face, abdomen and thighs, the report said, adding that a weapon had been recovered from his vehicle.
Video from traffic cameras, obtained by the Beacon Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, shows at least 10 police cruisers chasing Walker’s vehicle at one point during the chase.
Was the chase justified?
Mylett said the police reaction changed when they thought Walker was firing. That changed the situation from “a routine traffic stop to now a public safety problem,” he said.
Mike Lawlor, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, says the video raises more questions than answers.
“So if this started out as an obvious equipment violation, which usually means a broken tail light or there’s no light on the license plate, something like that, that would never warrant a chase in almost any part of the country,” he said. † “The question of whether someone is charged with a crime is, did they reasonably believe that someone’s life is in danger at the time?”
Lawlor noted that officers use stun guns first, which would not be used if officers thought their lives were in danger, he said.
JAYLAND WALKER CASE:Police Union Akron believes officers were ‘justified’ to shoot
“These are the kinds of things that make this seem like a classic example of a chase that wasn’t necessary, a use of deadly force that wasn’t necessary,” he said.
Akron’s branch of the Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement Sunday that the independent investigation will prove the actions, including the number of shots fired by the officers, were justified. The FOP said officers were aware that Walker fled a traffic stop in New Franklin the previous morning and said he had failed to follow “a lawful order to stop” in Akron.
“This incident is a tragedy for our entire community, including Jayland Walker’s family and all officers involved,” the press release said.
The city canceled the Rib, White & Blue festival, which was scheduled to open Friday and run through July 4.
“I fully understand that some residents and guests will be disappointed by the decision to cancel the festival this holiday weekend,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling that this is not the time for a city-led celebration.”
Police experts say more questions are coming from video
Police experts say the video of the deadly shooting early raises more questions than answers.
Two criminal justice and police experts told USA TODAY that the videos on their own ultimately don’t provide complete clarity about key moments in the shooting, including what prompted police to switch from taser use to deadly force and what led to the shooting. volume of gunfire by police at Walker, who was unarmed when he was shot, according to Mylett.
Video doesn’t show what caused officers to fire weapons, expert says
“It is my understanding that he took a pose that appeared to show that he was getting ready to shoot at police officers and that was what caused their use of deadly force,” Keith Taylor, an adjunct assistant professor in the Law Department, Police Science , and Criminal Justice at John Jay College, USA told TODAY. ‘I didn’t see that. And I’m sure that will be crucial in this research.’
The video may not be clear enough to determine whether Walker posed a risk to others, including the police, during the chase, according to Mike Lawlor, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.
“The question of whether someone is charged with a crime is, did they reasonably believe that someone’s life is in danger at the time?” Lawlor told USA TODAY. Read more here.
Contributors: Cady Stanton, Christine Fernando and Claire Thornton, USA TODAY; Tawney Beans and Jim Mackinnon, Akron Beacon Journal