Family of man killed in Akron police shooting demand accountability
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO/Gray News) - The family of Jayland Walker asked people to remain peaceful as they push for transparency in the Akron police-involved shooting that resulted in the death of the 25-year-old.
The Walker family’s attorneys said in a news conference Thursday that they are demanding justice and accountability from the officers who were involved. Police body camera footage is expected to be released by the Akron Police Department within days.
The family is devastated by his death.
“Jayland was a sweet young man, he never caused any trouble,” said his aunt, Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, “We love Jayland, he was my sweet little nephew and we miss him.”
According to Akron police, officers initially tried to pull over a driver for a traffic violation at approximately 12:30 a.m. Monday. The driver, identified by police as Walker, refused to stop, prompting a chase.
Police said a gun was discharged from Walker’s vehicle as they pursued.
Walker, who most recently worked as a DoorDash delivery driver, eventually slowed down near an intersection and ran away from his car. Police said “actions by the suspect” during the foot pursuit caused officers to shoot at Walker.
Sources said at least eight officers fired their weapons, totaling “dozens and dozens” of shots. Officials with the department have not confirmed that information.
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office said Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Attorney Bobby DiCello is among the lawyers handling the case for the family.
“This is not a monster, this is not a man who ever caught a crime in his life,” he said.
Hours before the news conference, protesters gathered in front of the Akron Police Department. The group demonstrating in response to the shooting briefly blocked traffic before officers came out of the building and cleared the roadway.
“Simply, we recognize their right to peacefully demonstrate, we constitutionally respect that,” said Akron police Lt. Michael Miller, “We just don’t want it to spill over to roadway where traffic and other people commuting in and through Akron is impacted.”
The eight officers involved in the fatal shooting were placed on paid administrative leave, per departmental procedure.
Akron police and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are continuing to investigate the incident.
Wellington (Ohio) Police Chief Tim Barfield, who also is a trainer on police use of force, spoke to WOIO on the parts of the investigation that are known at this point.
He referred to a Supreme Court case, Graham vs. Connor, which says use of force is judged from an officer’s perspective.
“Multiple officers were on the scene, fired their weapons and all perceived a threat,” Barfield said. “What we do know about the case is that there was a chase. There were reports of shots fired at police, so police believed that they were under attack and that when they encountered the suspect in this case, they all perceived a threat which at least from what we know so far, seems to fall within the guidelines of Graham vs. Connor.”
Barfield said if dozens of shots were fired, that doesn’t necessarily mean the officers went overboard.
“Under the law what’s judged is the force that was used was it reasonable at the time,” explained Barfield. “You have to understand with semiautomatic weapons, pistols that the officers carry, firing 5 or 6 rounds in quick succession when they feel a threat before them it’s very easy to go through that many rounds. It potentially could not be unreasonable to fire that many rounds because each one of those officers are taking action.”
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