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Protests erupt in Ohio after police shooting of Jayland Walker

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Violent protests erupted Sunday in downtown Akron, Ohio, which raged late into the night after police released a graphic body camera video showing black DoorDash delivery man Jayland Walker being shot dozens of times as he attempted to flee from a traffic stop.

Demonstrations have been held around Akron since the police shooting of Walker on June 27, but they intensified on Sunday after police made the video public, with Akron mayor Daniel Horrigan calling it “heartbreaking.”

Video footage shows police officers dressed in riot gear and carrying shields, confronted by protesters, who could be heard chanting “F–k the Police,” “Justice for Jayland” and “We’re done dying,” News 5 Cleveland reported. .

Other videos showed police officers holding what appeared to be a dozen cans of tear gas trying to disperse the crowd after someone toppled barricades around the Akron Justice Center, according to WKYC.

A woman faces troopers in riot gear as police fire tear gas and stun grenades to clear the area around Akron City Hall and the Akron Police Station during a protest against the murder of Jayland Walker, shot by police, in Akron, Ohio, July 3, 2022.
AFP via Getty Images
Akron police, dressed in riot gear and carrying shields, confronted protesters at the Akron Justice Center Sunday night.
Akron police, dressed in riot gear and carrying shields, confronted protesters at the Akron Justice Center Sunday night.
AFP via Getty Images
Tear gas was deployed after protesters set fire to a dumpster on Sunday and attempted to move barricades in downtown Akron.
Tear gas was deployed after protesters set fire to a dumpster on Sunday and attempted to move barricades in downtown Akron.
AFP via Getty Images

During the unrest, protesters blocked traffic in the Highland Square and West Akron parts of the city, and someone had set a dumpster on fire and smashed windows of plows used to close off streets.

At a press conference held Sunday to announce the release of the body-camera video, authorities admitted that Walker, 25, was unarmed when officers chased him on foot and killed him with a barrage of bullets, but they believed that he had shot at them. earlier from his car and feared he was about to fire again.

It’s unclear how many shots the eight officers involved in the incident fired, but Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said the number could be more than 90, with the Walker suffering at least 60 bullet wounds — including after he lay on the ground, according to the report. a lawyer for his family.

A medical examiner who arrived at the scene found Walker handcuffed to his back, according to an ME worksheet in the case, the Beacon Journal reported. He reportedly had injuries to his face, torso and thigh.

Walker, 25, was shot dead on June 27 after leading police officers in a chase and allegedly firing a shot from his car after a failed traffic stop.
Walker, 25, was shot dead on June 27 after leading police officers in a chase and allegedly firing a shot from his car after a traffic stop.
Graphic body camera video released Sunday showed eight officers firing dozens of shots at Walker after he exited his vehicle wearing a ski mask (pictured).
Graphic body camera video released Sunday showed eight officers firing dozens of shots at Walker after he exited his vehicle wearing a ski mask (pictured).
Akron Police Department/AFP via
Police say Walker may have been shot more than 90 times, including after he lay on the ground.
Police say Walker may have been shot more than 90 times, including after he lay on the ground.
via REUTERS

Police attempted to pull over Walker’s car at about 12:30 p.m. last Monday for unspecified traffic and equipment violations, but he refused to stop and led officers on the chase.

Police say Walker fired a shot from his car during the chase and a transportation department camera captured what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle.

Mylett said that changed the nature of the case from “a routine traffic stop to now a matter of public safety.”

Body camera videos show what happened after the approximately six-minute chase. Several yelling officers with guns drawn approach the slowing car on foot as it rolls over a curb and onto a sidewalk.

Walker wearing a ski mask exits the passenger door and runs to a parking lot. Police chase him for about 10 seconds before officers fire from multiple directions, in a series of shots lasting 6 or 7 seconds.

Police said they found a gun, loaded magazine and gold ring in Walker's vehicle during a traffic stop.
Police said they found a gun, loaded magazine and gold ring in Walker’s vehicle during a traffic stop.
Akron Police Department/AFP via

At least one officer had first tried to use a tranquilizer gun, but was unsuccessful, police said.

Mylett said Walker’s actions are hard to discern on the video in real time, but one photo appears to have him “go down to his waist” and another appears to show him turning to an officer. He said a third photo “captures a forward movement of his arm.”

In a statement shared with reporters on Sunday, the local police union said the officers believed there was an imminent threat of serious injury and believe their actions and the number of shots fired will be justified in accordance with their training and protocols. . The union said the officers are cooperating with the investigation.

Police said more than 60 wounds were found on Walker’s body, but further investigation is needed to determine exactly how many bullets the officers fired and how many times Walker was hit.

The footage released by the police ends with gunfire from the officers and does not show what happened next. Officers delivered first aid, and Walker can be heard to still have a heartbeat, but he was later pronounced dead, Mylett said.

Mylett declined to say Sunday whether the shooting was justified, adding that when a cop makes “the most crucial decision of his or her life” and points a gun at someone and fires them, they must explain “for each round through the course of a gun.”

A handgun, a loaded magazine and an apparent wedding ring were found on the seat of the car. A casing matching the weapon was later found in the area where officers believed a shot had come from the vehicle.

Protests have been held in Akron since Walker's shooting, but intensified after the video's release.
Protests have been held in Akron since Walker’s shooting, but intensified after the video’s release.
AFP via Getty Images
Walker's family demanded responsibility, but also urged protesters to remain peaceful.
Walker’s family demanded responsibility, but also urged protesters to remain peaceful.
REUTERS

Attorney General Dave Yost promised a “complete, fair and expert investigation” by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and warned that “body-worn camera images are just one representation of the whole picture.”

The Akron Police Department is conducting a separate internal investigation into whether the officers violated department rules or policies.

The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, which is customary in such cases.

Seven of the officers are white and one is black, according to the department. Their tenure with the Akron Police Department ranges from one and a half to six years, and none of them have a track record of discipline, well-founded complaints or fatal shootings, it said.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Walker’s death was not self-defense, but “was murder. Point empty.”

Walker’s family calls for responsibility, but also for peace, their lawyers said. One of the attorneys, Bobby DiCello, called the burst of police gunfire excessive and unreasonable, and said police handcuffed Walker before attempting to administer first aid.

The NAACP described Walker's murder as: "murder.  Point empty."
The NAACP described Walker’s murder as “murder. Point empty.”
REUTERS

“How it got to this point with a car chase is beyond me,” DiCello said.

He said Walker’s family don’t know why he fled the police. Walker mourned the recent death of his fiancée, but his family was not concerned beyond that, and he was not a criminal, DiCello said.

“They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” DiCello said. “I ask you, as he runs away, what is reasonable? To shoot him? No, that is not reasonable.”

The attorney added, “I hope we remember Jayland being unarmed when he ran across that parking lot.”

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