Police attempted to stop Walker’s vehicle around 12.30am Monday to investigate an unspecified traffic violation and pursued him when he failed to stop, they said. The Akron Police Department said a gun was pulled from the vehicle during the chase — an allegation Walker’s family disputed. Minutes later, Walker jumped out of the car and ran into a parking lot, followed by officers.
“The suspect’s actions caused officers to perceive that he posed a mortal 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.
A lawyer for his family, Bobby DiCello, told the Washington Post that eight officers fired more than 90 rounds at Walker, more than 60 of which hit his body. The account was corroborated by WKYC.
“There are wounds on all sides and all parts of his body,” DiCello said.
Police have not released details of the number of shots fired or which officers were involved. They said a weapon was recovered from the vehicle; DiCello said there was no evidence he was shot at an officer.
Akron residents have joined Walker’s family in demanding accountability for his death, the third police shooting in the northeastern Ohio town since December. Amid the uproar, Mayor Daniel Horrigan (D) announced the cancellation of the Rib, White & Blue festival scheduled for the July 4 weekend.
“I fully 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 to come together with friends and family. Unfortunately, I am convinced that now is not the time for a city-led celebration.
In a joint statement, Mayor and Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett 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 all 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 expected after the footage is released, with protesters marching towards City Hall.
On Sunday morning, a lone protester waited behind gathered reporters outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center on Akron’s South Main Street ahead 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 that read “Justice for Jayland.”
“I feel responsible for showing up,” Nelson said.
More than 1,040 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year across the country, according to Washington Post data. Half of those people were white, but black Americans are being slaughtered at a disproportionate rate. They make up less than 13% of the US population but are killed by police at more than double the rate of whites.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
Shammas reported from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Bella reported from Washington.