As Jayland Walker’s family demanded answers about the circumstances of last week’s murder, which authorities say took place following a police chase, large protests erupted in Akron, Utah. Ohio, with protesters marching to the city’s police headquarters.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett at a Sunday afternoon news conference joined the Walker family in calling for peaceful protests and patience as the investigation continues into the man’s death.
“When an officer makes the most critical decision of his life as a police officer, no matter where in the country it happens, when he makes the most critical decision to point his gun at another human being and pull the trigger, they have to be prepared to explain why they did what they did,” Mylett said Sunday. “They need to be able to articulate the specific threats they faced, and that goes for every bullet that hits the barrel of their gun.”
Mylett began the press conference by expressing his “sincere condolences to Jayland’s family” and apologizing for their loss.
“I can’t imagine the feeling of loss, the pain they’re going through right now,” Mylett said. “I want to personally thank you for the way you handled this situation. You asked for peace in an environment plagued by aggression and violence.”
Akron police officials said the fatal incident took place around 12:30 p.m. on June 27 in the North Hill neighborhood of Akron when officers attempted to arrest Walker for a traffic code violation. road and an equipment violation with his car. Police say the driver allegedly refused to stop, sparking a chase that ended in his death.
Police officials released footage from two police body camera videos, the first showing officers chasing Walker’s silver Buick down Highway 8 in Akron.
The video showed the Buick taking an on-ramp and a flash of light that Mylett said appeared to be the muzzle flash of a gun coming from the driver’s side of Walker’s car. Police officials also released freeze frames of the flash coming from the window of the vehicle.
A second body camera video recorded officers radioing that they heard at least one shot fired from Walker’s car. The video also shows the officer following the Buick on Highway 8 and continuing the pursuit down side streets.
At one point, Walker slowed down and jumped out of the vehicle before it came to a complete stop. Footage showed a man, who police believe was Walker, exiting the passenger side door of the car wearing a ski mask.
Several officers are seen in the footage running after Walker, who appeared to be looking over his shoulder as the officers fired at him.
Mylett said he had watched the video at least 40 times and there were still photos showing Walker appearing to reach for his belt, turn to the officer and extend one arm.
Mylett said Walker’s face and body were blurred in the video shown to the public at the request of the Walker family.
The chief said he reserved further comment on the video until the Ohio Bureau of Investigation completes its investigation.
Despite the shooting occurring a week ago, Mylett said none of the officers were interviewed by investigators. The chief said the president of the police union assured him that all officers involved in the shooting would cooperate fully.
In an earlier police statement, officials said “the actions of the suspect caused officers to perceive that he posed a mortal threat to them. In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect,” Akron police said in a statement. .
After the press conference, Bobby DiCello, an attorney for Walker’s family, said the key fact in the case, which Mylett confirmed, is that Walker was unarmed when he was killed.
Mylett said while the video confirmed Walker was unarmed when he was shot, he said the footage also captured a handgun with a separate loaded magazine and what appears to be a gold wedding ring left on the driver’s seat of Walker’s car.
DiCello said video shows Walker posed no threat to officers when they fired more than 60 shots.
“You can see his hands as he runs over the video,” DiCello told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” after watching the video before it was released.
ABC News has not seen the body camera footage or verified its contents.
He said the first two Akron police officers to engage Walker deployed their stun guns. Mylett confirms that officers deployed their Tasers, but had no effect.
“Why are eight men shooting at him, most from behind, as he flees?” DiCello told GMA the troubling list of questions he has about the shooting.
DiCello said he saw no evidence in the video he reviewed that Walker posed a threat to officers.
“Just sprinting away from these men, he gets shot as he starts to turn around and look over his shoulder,” DiCello said.
“We would like to know why he was put down like a dog,” Walker’s aunt, LaJuana Dawkins, told “GMA.”
“The suspect’s actions caused officers to perceive that he posed a mortal threat to them. In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect,” Akron police said in a statement. communicated.
The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
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