Ohio officers fired dozens of times, killing unarmed Jayland Walker following chase, police video shows
Authorities say footage appears to show Walker firing gun at police during earlier vehicle pursuit
Video released on Sunday showed eight police officers in Akron, Ohio, were involved in a shooting that killed an unarmed Black man whose body was found with some 60 wounds after he fled a traffic stop last week.
Police played multiple videos at a news conference, one of which they said shows a gunshot being fired from the car driven by Jayland Walker, 25.
It was not yet clear how many shots were fired by the officers who were involved in the shooting, but Walker sustained more than 60 wounds. An attorney for Walker's family said Walker was on the ground while officers continued to fire.
Police Chief Steve Mylett said officers attempted to stop Walker's car early Monday for unspecified traffic and equipment violations, but less than a minute into a pursuit the sound of a shot was heard from the car. A transportation department camera captured what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle.
Police said a few minutes later the car slowed and Walker emerged from the still-moving vehicle wearing a ski mask and fled on foot.
A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the seat and a casing consistent with the weapon was later found at the point where officers believed a shot came from the vehicle, authorities said.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use stun devices, the foot chase continued to a parking lot, at which point a crescendo of bullets can be heard on the video.
(WARNING: video contains graphic footage)
The attorney for the Walker family, Bobby DiCello, told reporters on Sunday that he was "very concerned" about the police's allegation that Walker had fired at officers from his car, and emphasized that there was no justification for his violent death.
"They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun," DiCello said. "I ask you, as he's running away, what is reasonable? To gun him down? No, that's not reasonable."
Actions 'hard to distinguish'
Mylett said he has watched the video dozens of times and Walker's actions are hard to distinguish, but a still photo seems to show him "going down to his waist area" and another appears to show him turning toward an officer and a third picture "captures a forward motion of his arm."
After the shooting, the officers who fired were kept apart, and arriving investigators walked them individually through the scene, Myett said.
"Each officer independent of each other related that they felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was motioning and moving into a firing position," he said.
Mylett said an officer firing at someone has to be "ready to explain why they did what they did, they need to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing ... and they need to be held to account."
But he said he is withholding judgment on their actions until they give their statements. He said the union president has told him that all are "fully cooperating" with the investigation.
Police said more than 60 wounds were found on the body but more investigation will be needed to determine exactly how many rounds the eight officers fired and how many times Walker was hit. Officers provided aid, and one can be heard saying he still had a pulse, Mylett said, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost vowed a "complete, fair and expert investigation." He cautioned that "body-worn camera footage is just one view of the whole picture — before drawing conclusions, the full review must take place."
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases.
Calls for police accountability
Walker's family is calling for accountability but also for peace, their lawyers said after the city released video of the shooting.
DiCello said gunfire from police occurred even after Walker was on the ground, and that police handcuffed him before trying to provide first aid.
"How it got to this with a pursuit is beyond me," DiCello said, adding that Walker's family doesn't know why he fled from police.
Walker was grieving the recent death of his fiancée, but his family had no indication of concern beyond that, DiCello said.
"He was sad, but he was getting through it," DiCello said. He said he doesn't know whether the ring found near the gun belonged to Walker.
"He wasn't a criminal," DiCello said. "He obviously was in pain. He didn't deserve to die."
DiCello called the burst of police gunfire excessive and unreasonable. "I hope we remember that as Jayland ran across that parking lot, he was unarmed," DiCello said.
Demonstrators marched through the city and gathered in front of the Akron Justice Center after the video was released. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Walker's death "was murder. Point blank."
The shooting was the latest in a spate of killings of Black men by law enforcement in the United States that critics say are racist and unjustified, including the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis that ignited global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
With files from The Associated Press