Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett announced that they will hold a press conference on Sunday at 1 p.m. to provide new information and release body camera video related to the death of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Akron man who was shot and killed by police.
The announcement for the news conference, which was released Friday by the City of Akron, states:
This press conference will provide further details of the officer-involved shooting of Jayland Walker which occurred Monday, June 27. Video footage of the incident from police body-worn cameras will be reviewed at the press conference and immediately released to the public following the conclusion of the event.
Chief Mylett will be meeting with members of the Walker family and their representation before the press conference to allow them the opportunity to review the footage before the media and public.
What led to the shooting
Captain Dave Laughlin, of the Akron Police Department, said it all started after midnight Monday when two officers were trying to stop a car on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.
Within a few seconds of being on Route 8, officers said a firearm was discharged from Walker’s vehicle.
Officers pursued him down Route 8 and I-77 where he exited into the Firestone Park Area before jumping out and fleeing on foot, heading northbound through a grassy area into a parking lot at Bridgestone.
According to Laughlin, Walker's actions "caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them," and officers first used tasers and then opened fire in response, striking Walker multiple times and fatally wounding him.
Laughlin said officers didn’t see a weapon but heard a gunshot or multiple gunshots from the car on the entrance ramp of Route 8.
What we know about the shooting
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, which was permitted to look over an investigative worksheet for the case Wednesday at the medical examiner’s office, “the worksheet indicated that Walker was observed laying on his back and was in handcuffs when a medical examiner investigator arrived at the shooting scene.”
Walker was shot in the face, abdomen and upper legs, according to the report. A weapon was recovered from his vehicle, according to the Beacon Journal. Authorities didn't say how many times Walker had been shot.
Beacon Journal reporters who were able to view the medical examiner’s investigative worksheet said there were about 150 thumbnail photos attached, including more than 60 pictures showing bullet fragments. Based on information provided before today’s news conference, it is not clear how many bullets were fired, because those images may be of the same fragments from different angles. It is also not confirmed how many times Walker was shot, as officials have yet to answer that question.
The entire incident lasted just minutes.
“From the time they called out it out about four and a half minutes,” said Laughlin.
Who was Jayland Walker?
A pastor and family member of Walker said the family is grieving and that he was a good person.
"The family is still trying to wrap their arms around this. He was not that kid," Robert DeJournett, pastor at St. Ashworth Temple in Akron told News 5. "Jayland didn't even have a parking ticket...Jayland had the biggest soul."
“Jayland was a sweet young man. He never caused any trouble,” said Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, Jayland’s aunt and the representative who spoke on behalf of the family Thursday. “We don’t know what happened. And we’d like to know. For the mother, the sister, the whole family, and the community.
Akron Public Schools confirmed that Walker was a 2015 graduate of the John R. Buchtel Community Learning Center, a high school in Akron.
YouTube video posted by the school shows Walker winning a wrestling match in the 2014 Bill Dies Tournament.
Statement from the city
On Wednesday, Horrigan and Mylett released a joint statement offering sincere condolences to those who knew Walker and saying more information about what happened will be forthcoming soon.
“We know that no police officer ever wants to discharge their service weapon in the line of duty. And anytime they must, it's a dark day for our city, for the families of those involved, as well as for the officers. Tragically, we are once again faced with a young man, with his life before him, gone too soon. Every single life is precious, and the loss of any life is absolutely devastating to our entire community. Our prayers are with Jayland Walker’s loved ones, and we offer our sincere condolences to all those who knew him. Our thoughts are also with our Akron police officers and their families.
"We want to reassure our citizens that more information will be coming in the following days, including the body-worn camera footage that recorded this incident. We are keeping our promise to the community, understanding that there can be no trust without transparency and follow-through on commitment.
"We have every confidence in the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct a thorough, fair, and honest investigation. We will cooperate fully with that investigation and have made it a top priority for our staffs. As a city, we are committed to this process and trust that it will yield a fuller understanding of this incident.”
Protests, canceled events
A handful of protesters have been demonstrating outside the Akron Police headquarters every day since Wednesday. So far, they have been small and peaceful.
Stating that "I feel strongly that this is not the time for a city-led celebration," Mayor Horrigan announced Thursday that the city's "Rib, White and Blue" Fourth of July celebration has been canceled.
Horrigan also canceled his appearance at an event to dedicate the Kenmore South Alley as Virgil Lay Way to kick off the Kenmore First Friday event, according to a news release from the city. A reason for the canceled appearance was not provided.
The Akron Municipal Court was closed Friday, July 1, though a reason for the closure was not provided in the city communication.
Calls for answers, accountability
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, members of Walker's family and lawyers representing them spoke to the media, demanding answers and accountability from Akron police while calling for peace and calm from the public at large.
Mylett told the Beacon Journal that the Akron Police Department will release all bodycam videos from the incident, not just the video required by a city ordinance which states they must release at least three body camera videos within seven days of the incident, which would be this Sunday. The law requires all footage be released within a month of the incident.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has taken over the investigation of Walker’s shooting death at the request of Akron Police, marking the first time the department has requested an outside agency investigate a deadly use of force involving one of its own officers.
BCI has assisted on the crime scene in 16 Akron cases since 2017, the Beacon Journal reports, and the department has only asked the state to take the lead once, in a 2017 case involving a mentally ill man shot and killed by Stow officer.
The BCI investigation of Walker’s death will involve the collection of evidence to be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for presentation to a Summit County grand jury.
Mylett said he need to balance his duty to provide information to the public with the need to not interfere with BCI’s investigation.
“The public is relying on them,” he said of BCI.
He told the Beacon Journal that he is concerned about the potential public backlash to Walker’s death, especially once the video is released. He said he knows there will be lots of questions about what happened and why.
“The public’s going to have questions,” Mylett said. “I’ve got questions. We’re going to rely on BCI to get the answers."