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As protests continue over Jayland Walker's death, police body cam footage will be released Sunday

Protest_cristhy_sotres.jpg
Anna Huntsman
/
Ideastream Public Media
Cristhy Sotres (center) leads a small group of protesters in a chant outside the Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron on Friday. Protesters are calling for accountability over the death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, who was shot and killed by police earlier this week.

Body camera footage of the police shooting that killed 25-year-old Jayland Walker in Akron earlier this week will be released Sunday, city officials have announced.

Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett and Mayor Dan Horrigan will host a news conference at 1 p.m. Sunday to discuss details of the incident and show the footage, city officials said in a news release Friday.

According to the initial statement from police, Walker was shot and killed by police after a vehicle pursuit overnight Monday. Police said Walker shot a gun while he was driving. He then fled on foot, and police shot him after “actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” according to police.

Multiple news outlets have reported Walker was shot close to 60 times based on the medical examiner's preliminary summary. The officers involved are on paid administrative leave.

The Walker family’s lead attorney, Bobby DiCello, said he saw some of the body camera footage Friday alongside family members.

“The troubling fact of this case is the amount of firepower and the aggressive failure to de-escalate the situation in the encounter with Jayland Walker," DiCello said. "This case is graphic. It is scary, violent, troubling."

Walker’s family and many community members do not think they have all the answers from police.

“There is an allegation that he was somehow a threat to the officers at the time he was shot, and we have seen no evidence of that at all,” DiCello said. “I can tell you in talking to the chief myself that he hasn’t yet been able to find it.”

DiCello added that the family is saddened that Fourth of July festivities were canceled in the city in anticipation of potentially violent protests in response to Walker’s death.

“We do not want violence, violent protests, mayhem of any kind. We want peace, dignity and justice for Jayland, nothing else,” DiCello said.

Protesters have gathered for two days outside the Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron.

Akron protest Friday July 1.
Anna Huntsman
/
Ideastream Public Media
A group of protesters gather outside the Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron on Friday.

A crowd of about 30 people gathered there Friday afternoon, holding signs calling for justice and chanting “Black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace.” Some drivers honked to show support for the group as they passed by.

Protester Cristhy Sotres led the group in chants calling for police to be held accountable.

“It was a public execution," Sotres said. "These thugs have gotten [away] with this for so long because it’s legislated, and they need to be held accountable for what they do.”

Akron resident Ian Ferguson also attended the protest and said he hopes justice will be served.

“It’s a little ridiculous that they can get away with this, and with the long history that we have in our country of police brutality, chances are they’re probably not going to have any type of repercussion for what’s going on,” Ferguson said.

Protestors hold signs in Akron
Anna Huntsman
/
Ideastream Public Media
Two protesters, Joe (left) and Jeremy, hold up signs at a protest over the death of Jayland Walker in downtown Akron on Friday. The two declined to give their last names.

Sotres and Ferguson are both glad the body camera footage is being released soon.

“I hope that it gives credibility to the cause, and that it makes a lot more people angry,” Sotres said.

Meanwhile, news of Walker's killing has been drawing national attention, and several Northeast Ohio elected officials have expressed condolences and called for accountability from the police.

The Black Elected Officials of Summit County, which includes leaders from several cities and the county, released a statement calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

“As Black people, we are too often considered suspect and perceived as threatening, which is why the killing of Mr. Walker is so disturbing. After being shot 60 times, police still deemed it necessary to bind his hands in cuffs. Mr. Walker was already dead. When are we not a threat?” said Summit County Councilwoman Veronica Sims, president of the group.

Akron Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Mosley added, “No traffic stop should end with someone losing their life. Jayland Walker mattered to his family, to his friends, and to this community. Jayland’s life mattered.”

U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown also released a statement Friday urging the city of Akron and the police department to be thorough and transparent in the investigation of Walker’s death.

“I join with so many in the Akron community in mourning the death of Jayland Walker, who was revered as ‘a neighbor, brother, and nephew’ and, I’m sure, so much more,” Rep. Brown said in the statement. “I am gravely concerned about the killing of a young Black man at the hands of police, especially as it happens all too often across this country.”

Ideastream Public Media's Matthew Richmond contributed to this report.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron and Canton for Ideastream Public Media.