The mayor of Akron, Ohio has declared a state of emergency, implemented a curfew and canceled the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display following protests in the wake of the police killing of Jayland Walker, who suffered at least 60 wounds from officer fire.
Police released body camera video footage of the 25-year-old Black man’s killing on Sunday, nearly one week after his death after what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop. Following a car chase, police pursued Walker on foot before firing a hail of rounds.
A medical examiner’s report found Walker suffered at least 60 wounds. Eight officers were placed on administrative leave.
Hundreds of protesters marched in peaceful demonstrations in downtown Akron on Sunday demanding justice for Walker’s killing and condemning police violence. Later that night, police in riot gear fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades toward the crowds.
In a statement on 4 July, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said the protests “did not escalate to violence and destruction” but said there was “significant property damage” as “night fell and others began to join” the demonstrations.
“We cannot and will not tolerate violence or the destruction of property. In light of the damage that has occurred and in order to preserve peace in our community, I have declared a state of emergency, implemented a curfew and canceled the fireworks which were scheduled for tonight,” he said.
The curfew will remain in effect through 6am on Tuesday.
According to police, Walker fled an attempted traffic in the early morning hours last Monday before the chase began. Walker had one traffic ticket and did not have a criminal record.
Officials claim that police saw a gun shot flash from Walker’s car. Video footage presented on Sunday appears to show a grainy image of a flash coming from the car.
“Shots fired, that vehicle just had a shot come out of its door,” an officer can be heard saying on the footage.
Attorneys for Walker’s family say they have not seen evidence that Walker fired at police. Police recovered a handgun from the car after he was killed.
According to police, officers first tried to use a Taser. Seconds later, believing he was armed, eight officers surrounding Walker fired dozens of shots.
Akron police chief Stephen Mylett said it is unclear how many shots were fired, though he anticipated the figure to be “very high” and “consistent with the number that has been circulating.”
“In my 22 years of doing trial work, both as a former prosecutor for Cuyahoga County and as a civil rights attorney on many serious cases of lethal use of force, I have never in my life seen anything like this, ever. It is very, very disturbing,” Walker family attorney Bobby DiCello told the Akron Beacon Journal.
“We’re all bracing for the community’s response and the one message that we have is the family does not need any more violence,” he said. “It needs peace, and it wants peace, and it wants the process to play out.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading a probe, which will be turned over to the office of the Ohio Attorney General for review.