Day of mourning declared as Jayland Walker is laid to rest in Akron, Ohio

He was remembered in a service attended by approximately a 1,000 people as a quiet, kind and humorous young man.

On a citywide day of mourning declared by the City of Akron, Ohio to coincide with the homegoing of Jayland Walker — the 25-year-old who was killed following a traffic stop in a hail of police gunfire  — he was remembered as a quiet, kind and humorous young man, the Akron Beacon Journal is reporting.

Walker’s uncle, Tom Addie, described him as “a kind soul with a great heart” who was free with a hug and always told family that he loved him. “That’s what we need to cherish and think about,” Addie said. “All this will handle itself. Jayland’s at peace now.”

A cousin, Robin Elerick, recalled Walker’s funny side, particularly an occasion when he said his semi-pro wrestling name would be String Bean if the longtime wrestling fan and high school wrestler pursued that career. “With Jayland, you didn’t always know if he was joking or not, so we kind of laughed it off.”

Pamela Walker, left, the mother of Jayland Walker stands with family members as they listen to their attorney Bobby DiCello speak during a press conference at St. Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ, Monday, July 11, 2022, in Akron, Ohio. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal via AP)

Walker’s ceremony was livestreamed at the Akron Civic Theatre and featured an open casket, drawing comparisons to the Emmett Till funeral. It attracted around 1,000 friends, family, relatives and onlookers. One group of onlookers, which remained outside, was armed with weapons, including a shotgun, machetes, handguns and semiautomatic rifles, according to the Beacon Journal.

In his eulogy of Walker, the Rev. Robert DeJournett of St. Ashword Temple in Akron recalled that Walker’s family held him in high regard and shared a charming memory of a little boy who couldn’t quite pronounce his first and middle names — Robert Earl —  so referred to him as “Robba Girl.”

On  a more serious note, DeJournett reminded those in attendance of the many Jaylands around the country — good young men who had not been in any real trouble. He also spoke about the benefits of seeking professional help and disclosed that he has done so. 

“Emotions are raging for many of us. We’re grieving. Grief comes out differently depending on who you are,” he said, citing protests as a form of grief and indicating that they should be permitted if they are nonviolent. “It’s normal. Grief is a normal, natural reaction to loss, conflicting feelings caused by end of or change in the familiar pattern of behavior.”

Walker was unarmed when he was fatally shot by Akron police officers on June 27. As reported previously by theGrio, police allege that Walker failed to stop when officers attempted to pull him over around 12:30 a.m. and that he fired a shot from his vehicle before exiting the car and fleeing the scene.

Police body camera footage was released a week after the incident that shows a group of officers unleashing a barrage of bullets at Walker. According to multiple reports, police fired at least 90 shots and continued to shoot him once he hit the ground in a parking lot. Police then handcuffed him until the medical examiner arrived. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The medical examiner later confirmed that 60 bullets hit Walker. 

Eight of the officers involved in his killing have been placed on paid administrative leave as the shooting remains under investigation, according to an NPR report.

In the aftermath of Walker’s killing, there have been numerous protests in downtown Akron, some of them featuring clashes between protestors and police, according to the Beacon Journal.

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