A routine traffic stop ended last Monday with the death of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot by eight police officers in Akron, Ohio. The June 27 incident sparked several days of protests and on Sunday, local authorities released body camera footage of the fatal shooting (by law, all US officers must wear bodycams).
The autopsy found 60 gunshot wounds on Walker’s body. It is not yet clear if he was shot 60 times, since the number could also include exit wounds.
Walker’s car was stopped last Monday after midnight for a routine traffic stop. The 25-year-old tried to drive away from the officers, but was cornered by police. He then fled the car and ran away on foot. According to the police account, the eight officers believed he was armed. Walker did have a weapon in his car, but he was not carrying it when he was shot in the street by police. In the video released during a police press conference on Sunday, officers are seen running after Walker. The image then freezes and dozens of shots are heard.
Walker joins a long list of unarmed Black men who have been killed by police in the United States. This list includes Trayvon Martin, whose murder at the hands of a neighborhood watch coordinator in 2012 sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, and George Floyd, who died in 2020 after a police officer in Minnesota knelt on his neck and back for more than nine minutes. His murder led to protests against police brutality and opened a debate on the need for greater review on how police treat Black people.
In response to the fatal shooting of Walker, the city of Akron has cancelled all celebrations for Independence Day on July 4. More demonstrations are expected in the city. The eight officers have been put on paid administrative leave.
According to police, Walker fired his weapon once while inside his car, but his family denies this. What is clear is that when he got out of the car and started running, he was not armed.
“Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” police said. “In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.” Walker was shot dead in the middle of the road.
The family’s lawyer, Bobby DiCello, stated that the young man had “wounds on all sides and parts of his body.”
The police have not yet published details on how many shots were fired, but according to his family, Walker was shot 90 times. The names of the eight police officers have also not yet been released.
On May 25, US President Joe Biden signed a presidential order to mark the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd. The order was intended to prevent these police abuses by reforming some procedures and subjecting officers involved in fatal shootings to greater control and surveillance. The goal of the order was to ensure police use only minimum force. However, everything indicates that last Monday in Akron, the police did not comply with the measure.