AKRON, Ohio — Police on Sunday released footage showing officers firing dozens of rounds at a Black man who left his car to flee a traffic stop last week.
The police chief described the footage, which was blurred to obscure Walker, as “difficult to watch” and “shocking.” He said he would reserve judgment until hearing from the officers involved. Evidence indicates that Walker fired a gun from inside his vehicle during the car chase, Mylett said.
“When an officer makes the most critical decision in his or her life as a police officer, when they fire an arm at another human being, they have to be ready to explain why they did what they did — they need to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing,” he said. “And that goes for every round that goes down the barrel of their gun. And they need to be held to account.”
Eight officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Police tried to stop Walker’s vehicle at about 12:30 a.m. Monday for investigation of an unspecified traffic violation and chased him when he did not pull over, they said. The Akron Police Department said a gun was fired from the vehicle — an allegation that Walker’s family has disputed. Shortly thereafter, Walker jumped out of the car and ran into a parking lot, with officers following.
“Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” the police department said in a news release. “In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.”
Walker was pronounced dead in the parking lot.
An attorney for his family, Bobby DiCello, told The Washington Post this weekend that eight officers fired more than 90 rounds at Walker, with more than 60 striking his body.
“There are wounds on all sides and parts of his body,” DiCello said.
Police said a weapon was recovered from the vehicle; DiCello said there is no evidence that it was fired at an officer.
Akron residents joined Walker’s family in demanding accountability for his death, the third police shooting in the northeastern Ohio city since December. Amid the uproar, Mayor Daniel Horrigan (D) announced the cancellation of the Rib, White & Blue Festival planned for the July Fourth weekend.
“I completely understand that some residents and guests will be disappointed by the decision to cancel the festival this holiday weekend,” he said in a statement. “Independence Day is meant to be a celebration and a time of gathering with friends and family. Unfortunately, I feel strongly that this is not the time for a city-led celebration.”
In a joint statement before Sunday’s news conference, the mayor and the police chief described the shooting as “a dark day for our city, for the families of those involved, as well as for the officers.” They added that “the loss of any life is absolutely devastating to our entire community.”
Residents held a vigil outside the police department Friday night, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. A rally is planned for after the release of the footage, with protesters marching to City Hall.
A lone protester waited behind reporters gathered outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on Akron’s South Main Street on Sunday morning, in anticipation of the video’s release.
Sarah Nelson, a 29-year-old White woman, had driven nearly an hour from Cleveland. She stood quietly on the sidewalk holding a sign reading “Justice for Jayland.”
“I feel a responsibility to show up,” Nelson said.
More than 1,040 people have been fatally shot by police in the past year nationwide, according to Washington Post data. Half those people were White, but Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White people.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
Shammas reported from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Bella reported from Washington. Kim Bellware contributed from Chicago.