Hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday, July 3, in Akron, Ohio (in the north of the United States), after the broadcast of a video showing the homicide by police of a black man who, according to his lawyer, was hit by sixty bullets. As authorities called for calm, a crowd marched towards City Hall with banners calling for “Justice for Jayland”.
Jayland Walker, 25, was killed on June 27 while trying to evade police after a car chase following an attempted arrest for a traffic violation. A very violent video released Sunday by the authorities shows the young man being riddled with bullets.
Anti-racist associations had called for a fourth day of demonstration, Sunday, in this city of 190,000 inhabitants near Cleveland. These rallies remained peaceful, except for a tense moment when protesters approached a line of police and shouted at them.
At the end of the first rally, a crowd remained in the street to protest at nightfall. No violence had been reported. However, fearing unrest, authorities have placed heavy equipment, such as snowplows, around the police station to protect it.
Two videos released by the police
Initially stingy with information about the incident, Akron authorities finally unveiled two documents on Sunday. One is a compilation of videos and screenshots from individual police cameras, along with a commentary. The second is full footage of the chase and shooting, also from a police camera.
The commentary claims Walker did not stop his car and fled, police began a chase, and multiple officers claimed a shot was fired from Walker’s vehicle. After several minutes, Walker got out of his still moving car and sought to escape on foot. The police then tried in vain to subdue him with tasers.
Several of them followed him to a parking lot. The footage is too blurry to make out what happened next, but police said in a statement the 25-year-old behaved in a way that raised fears of a “deadly threat”. All the police present opened fire. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
This incident is reminiscent of other deaths of black men during interactions with the police, tragedies that sparked a major movement against racism and police violence, Black Lives Matter, in 2020.
“Many will want to air their grievances in public and I fully support our residents’ right to peaceful assembly,” City Mayor Dan Horrigan said, saying he was “heartbroken.” “But I hope people will agree that violence and destruction is not the solution,” he said at a press conference.
The city councilor also announced the opening of an independent investigation. “I’ve been a lawyer for twenty-two years and I’ve never seen anything like what this video shows,” Bobby DiCello, an attorney for the victim’s family, told The New York Times. . According to Chief of Police Steve Mylett, a medical examiner’s report lists sixty wounds on Jayland Walker’s body.
The eight police officers involved in his death have been administratively suspended with pay pending the end of the judicial investigation. In a tweet on Sunday, basketball superstar LeBron James, from Akron, said he prayed for his city.