Sylvie Claire / July 4, 2022
Hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday, July 3, in Akron, Ohio (in the northern United States), after the release of a video showing the homicide by police officers of a black man who, according to his lawyer, was hit by sixty bullets. While the authorities called for calm, a crowd marched towards the town hall with banners demanding Justice for Jayland.
Jayland Walker, 25, was killed on June 27 as he tried to evade police officers after a car chase following an attempted traffic stop. A violent video released Sunday by authorities shows the young man being riddled with bullets.
Anti-racist groups had called for a fourth day of demonstrations on Sunday in this city of 190,000 people near Cleveland. These rallies remained peaceful, except for a moment of tension when demonstrators approached a police cordon and shouted at them.
After the first rally, a crowd remained in the street to protest at nightfall. No violence was reported. However, for fear of unrest, authorities placed heavy equipment, such as snowplows, around the police station to protect it.
Initially stingy with information about the incident, Akron officials finally released two documents Sunday. One is a compilation of video and screenshots from individual police cameras, along with commentary. The second is a full sequence of the chase and shooting, also from a police officer’s camera.
The commentary states that Walker did not stop his car and fled, that police began a chase, and that several officers claimed that a shot was fired from Walker’s vehicle. After several minutes, Walker exited his still-moving car and sought to escape on foot. The officers then attempted to subdue him with tasers, but were unsuccessful.
Several of them followed him into a parking lot. The images are too blurred to clearly distinguish what happened next, but the police said in a statement that the 25-year-old man had behaved in a way that raised fears of a deadly threat. All the police officers present opened fire. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
The mayor also announced an independent investigation. I’ve been a lawyer for twenty-two years and I’ve never seen anything close to what this video shows, Bobby DiCello, an attorney for the victim’s family, told The New York Times. According to Police Chief Steve Mylett, a medical examiner’s report shows sixty injuries on Jayland Walker’s body.
The eight police officers involved in his death have been administratively suspended with pay pending the completion of the criminal investigation. In a tweet Sunday, basketball superstar LeBron James, an Akron native, said he was praying for his city.