Body camera shots of Jayland Walker shots raise questions

AKRON, Ohio — A 25-year-old black man killed by police officers in Akron, Ohio last week suffered more than 60 gunshot wounds but was unarmed at the time, the police chief said Sunday.

That detail was one of the facts that emerged in the murder of man, Jayland Walker, who died last Monday after fleeing police during what would be a routine traffic stop. At a news conference on Sunday, police released body-camera videos of the chase and shooting that showed the officers’ actions but raised many questions surrounding his death, which is still under investigation.

mr. Walker had one traffic ticket and no criminal record. Police said they initially wanted to arrest him for an equipment violation and a traffic violation.

Eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave under department policy.

After the videos were released, hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Akron, demanding justice for Mr. Walker and dismissed the police brutality, while Mr. Walker urged the community to remain peaceful.

In one video, at one point, a popping sound is heard and an officer reports that gunshots are coming from the door of Mr. Walker’s car. The shot itself is not visible in the footage, but footage from outside the car was shown during the press conference that appeared to capture a muzzle flash coming out of Mr Walker’s side door.

Police said at the press conference that a gun was later found in Mr Walker’s car and a shell casing was found where he said he had fired and that it matched the weapon found in Mr Walker’s car. Mr Walker was found. A still photo released by police showed a gun on the seat, along with a gold ring. Mr. Walker’s girlfriend recently died in a car accident.

Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for the Walker family, said Mr Walker had only recently received the gun. “Jayland was not familiar with any firearms and we don’t know if it was fired accidentally,” he said. “But the police found no bullets in the gun when they found it in the car after his death.”

In the press conference, police did not comment on whether the gun had been unloaded into the car, but said there was a loaded magazine on the seat.

As the chase continued, the footage shows a cop saying Mr Walker’s car is slowing down. Seconds later, Mr. Walker, wearing a ski mask, steps out of the vehicle and begins to flee on foot.

The chase was short and footage appears to show a number of officers attacking Mr. Chasing Walker, guns drawn, to a nearby parking lot as they yelled at him. Police officers initially deployed tasers but were unsuccessful, police said. A few seconds later, the officers open fire and Mr. Walker falls to the ground.

Akron Police Chief Stephen L. Mylett said he wasn’t sure how many shots had been fired at Mr. Walker in total. He couldn’t confirm the exact number of bullets that hit him (though he did mention the wounds reported by the coroner), but he expected the number to be “very high.”

Chief Mylett said the officers claimed that Mr Walker quickly turned to the officers and made a move to his “waist area.” However, the chief confirmed that Mr Walker was unarmed after fleeing from his car.

But Mr DiCello said in a previous meeting with the chief and the family, the chief said he had seen no evidence to suggest that the officers’ lives were threatened.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an investigation. After that is completed, the case will be turned over to the Ohio Attorney General’s office for review.

The decision to charge the officers involved in a crime will be decided by prosecutors, but charges have rarely been filed in similar cases of shootings involving the police. If a gun was fired during the chase, it could have a significant impact on the decision to prosecute or not, and could lend a measure of credibility to the officers’ claims that they were in danger.

Mr DiCello criticized the way the police portrayed Mr Walker during the press conference. “They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” he said. The family’s lawyers also questioned the city’s release of only parts of the videos at the press conference and insisted that the city release all of the video.

Police said they planned to release all body camera images captured by officers during the shooting. This, they said, would include footage of the eight officers directly involved in the shooting, along with five others who were at the scene.

The video’s release on Sunday sparked tensions already high in Akron over the shooting. A day after more than 100 protesters gathered just outside downtown, chanting and holding placards, protests continued with hundreds taking part in a march and rally at City Hall organized by the Akron NAACP

“It just goes on and on, the same thing over and over,” says Chris Mercury, 41, an African-American barbershop in Akron. He added that people in the country would continue to think it was the person’s fault that this happened.

“And at the end of the day,” said his wife, Monique, a fashion store owner, “the threat to people who were in the same position as Walker, the danger is immediate no matter what they do.”

She added that “people of all races and backgrounds need to realize that this is happening, and it only seems to be getting worse.”

The Walker family urged the city not to use violence.

“If you can do something for the family, please give peace, give dignity and give justice a chance for Jayland,” DiCello said Sunday. “My clients are private individuals. Jayland was a private child. He was not married. He was not a criminal. He was clearly in pain. He didn’t deserve to die.”

Kim Barker and Steve Eder reporting contributed.

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