Family demanding answers after Black man killed by police during traffic stop in Ohio
Written by Meredith Deliso ABC News on July 2, 2022
(AKRON, Ohio) — A grieving Ohio family is waiting for answers after a 25-year-old Black man was fatally shot by Akron police officers during a traffic stop earlier this week.
Jayland Walker was shot multiple times after he was pulled over early Monday for a minor traffic violation, according to lawyers representing his family.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced Friday that they will release body-worn camera footage from the incident, which has sparked days of protests outside the police headquarters calling for “Justice for Jayland,” on Sunday.
Mylett will meet with members of Walker’s family before the briefing to allow them to see the footage, officials said.
“How these events took place leaves us with many, many, many questions,” Bobby DiCello, one of the lawyers representing the family, said during a press briefing Thursday.
One question involves what police did to de-escalate the situation, he said. Authorities also have not released details on the number of shots fired by the eight officers involved in the shooting, or how many fired their weapons.
Preliminary medical examiner records reviewed by ABC Cleveland affiliate WEWS on Friday showed there were more than 60 markers indicating “defects” on Walker’s body, and that there were multiple gunshot wounds to his face, abdomen and upper legs.
The incident occurred early Monday, when Akron police officers attempted a traffic stop at around 12:30 a.m. When the driver did not stop, a police pursuit ensued, police said in a statement.
“During the pursuit, officers reported a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle,” police said.
Walker allegedly fled from the car while it was still moving, with officers then engaging in a foot pursuit, police said.
“The suspect ran northbound into a nearby parking lot. Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” police said. “In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.”
Officers administered first aid, though Walker was pronounced dead at the scene. Medical examiner records show he was found on his back on the pavement in handcuffs, and that a gun was recovered inside his car, according to WEWS.
The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an investigation that will be presented to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Summit County Grand Jury, authorities said.
“We have every confidence in the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct a thorough, fair, and honest investigation,” Mayor Horrigan and Chief Mylett said in a joint statement Wednesday. “We will cooperate fully with that investigation and have made it a top priority for our staffs. As a city, we are committed to this process and trust that it will yield a fuller understanding of this incident.”
As they wait to view the footage from the shooting, Walker’s family is demanding answers.
“What’s unfortunate … is portraying Jayland as the reason this happened,” Ken Abbarno, another lawyer for Walker’s family, told reporters. “That’s spin, that’s protection, and that’s designed for a specific reason. We will learn in the coming days the real truth of what happened.”
Walker, a DoorDash driver, had no criminal record, the family’s lawyers said.
Walker’s aunt described her “skinny little nephew” as a “sweet young man.”
“He never caused any trouble,” Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, who spoke on behalf of the family, told reporters Thursday. “We don’t know what happened, and we’d like to know. For the mother, the sister, the whole family and the community.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, the city canceled a Fourth of July festival scheduled to run Friday through Monday.
“I completely understand that some residents and guests will be disappointed by the decision to cancel the festival this holiday weekend,” Horrigan 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.”
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