AKRON, Ohio — A man shot and killed by Akron police officers in a hail of bullets following a vehicle and foot pursuit was unarmed at the time of the shooting, but a shot appeared to have come from the vehicle during the pursuit, police said. Officers said they feared he was preparing to fire when they discharged their weapons, authorities said.
New video released by the City of Akron and the Akron Police Department on Sunday included a narrated timeline of the events leading up to the shooting death of Jayland Walker on June 27.
WARNING: The City of Akron published to YouTube unedited footage from 13 different body cameras on the night that Jayland Walker was shot and killed by police. The video is very graphic and viewer discretion is advised.
Text in the video said officers attempted to stop Walker for a traffic violation. Police said Walker refused to stop and drove away, leading to a pursuit.
The video showed a flash of light coming from the driver's seat of Walker's vehicle. Police said Walker fired gunshots at the cruisers.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said that changed the nature of the case from “a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue."
The pursuit continued on the highway and through city streets for several minutes.
The video showed Walker's vehicle slowing down near an intersection on the city's south side. Walker exited the moving vehicle wearing a ski mask and ran from the scene on foot.
About eight officers chased after Walker on foot. One of them deployed a Taser to apprehend Walker but was unsuccessful.
Walker continued to run into a nearby parking lot. The video showed the officers firing multiple gunshots at Walker after he stopped and quickly turned around toward them.
Walker's body was blurred in the video at the request of family members.
Police said officers fired their guns because Walker made a motion that caused them to fear for their lives.
Mylett said he has watched the video dozens of times and Walker's actions at the time are hard to distinguish, but a still photo seems to show him “going down to his waist area" and another appears to show him turning towards an officer and a third picture “captures a forward motion of his arm."
Social media posts claimed that about 90 rounds were fired and Walker was struck 60 times. Initial medical examiner reports indicated Walker suffered more than 60 gunshot wounds, although it is still being determined how many were entrance and exit wounds, according to Mylett.
No officers were reported injured.
After doing an initial inspection inside Walker's vehicle, officers found a handgun, loaded magazine and a gold ring.
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases.
Mylett said an officer firing at someone has to be “ready to explain why they did what they did, they need to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing ... and they need to be held to account.” But he said he is withholding judgment on their actions until they give their statements, and he said the union president has told him that all are “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Bobby DiCello, the attorney representing Walker's family, spoke after the press briefing, accusing Akron officials of only showing snapshots of the incident that turned Walker into a "masked monster with a gun."
"At the time he was shot, more than 90 or 60 [times] or whatever the unbelievable number will be, he was unarmed," DiCello stressed.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement minutes after the press briefing, saying how the state Bureau of Crime Investigations is working to gather the evidence and answers around the deadly shooting.
“People want and deserve answers, and they shall have them. BCI will conduct a complete, fair and expert investigation,” Yost said. “Body-worn camera footage is just one view of the whole picture – before drawing conclusions, the full review must take place.”
Since Walker's death, family, friends, and community members demonstrated in the streets of Akron, demanding justice and answers.