Jayland Walker’s family demands more transparency, apology for police killing
Walker, 25, was shot and killed by Akron, Ohio, police following a June 27 attempted traffic stop.
The lawyers for Jayland Walker’s family on Tuesday criticized the city of Akron, Ohio, for not giving them newly released crime scene video that a local newspaper received after filing legal requests for the bodycam footage.
The lawyers also decried what they called a lack of transparency in the investigation of Walker’s death.
Police killed Walker in a hail of 90 bullets on June 27 after he fled on foot from a car when officers tried to initiate a traffic stop.
Last Friday, officials gave the Akron Beacon Journal new footage of the shooting in which one officer instructs another to turn off her camera, and another video section that contained no audio, according to the newspaper.
At a Tuesday press conference in Akron, Bobby DiCello, one of the Walker family lawyers, said he and his legal team didn’t learn of the new video until it went public. Friday, the Beacon Journal wrote about the video, and News 5, an ABC affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, aired portions of the footage. DiCello said he doesn’t know why his office didn’t receive copies ahead of their release.
“We didn’t get any explanation as to what videos they’ve released or why they’ve only released the ones they released, and why they are now just releasing this one Friday,” DiCello said. “We are not getting any kind of communication from them on that.”
TheGrio placed calls to the Akron Police Department and City Hall and emailed them both, asking for any statement or comment regarding the press conference. Neither of those offices has responded to the requests.
The family’s attorneys, community members and family members attended the press conference at St. Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ, pastored by Jayland Walker’s cousin, the Rev. Robert DeJournett.
DiCello discussed two other video-related issues during the press conference. He said officers should not have silenced mics or stopped recording. He also noted the crushing impact the slow release of information has had on Walker’s mother, Pamela Walker, who attended the press conference but didn’t speak.
“Every time I come up here and our team gathers, Pam goes through a living nightmare,” DiCello said. “She relives this. So the city leadership needs to recognize that by slowly trickling out the videos that they get, she has to go through this. And that’s the inhumanity of this.”
DiCello also said the city’s refusal to publicly apologize to the Walker household showed a lack of respect for a grieving family.
“Stop insulting us by your silence,” DiCello said. He also asked, “Where is the apology?”
At the press conference, the Akron NAACP said community organizations want to create an independent citizen oversight board for police. Another group, the Freedom BLOC, the Black Led Organizing Collaborative, accused police of “terrorizing” citizens involved in peaceful demonstrations. One video shows Akron police punching a demonstrator during a protest.
The shooting of Walker, 25, took place shortly after midnight on June 27. Police say they tried to initiate a traffic stop of the car Walker was driving when a shot came from the vehicle. Police chased the car, and when Walker exited, he was wearing a ski mask, according to authorities. He ran and turned toward the officers while making a movement toward his waist. By then, eight officers had joined the chase, and they fired a combined 90 shots, hitting him 46 times, according to the Summit County coroner.
All of the officers are on paid administrative leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation probes the case.
The shooting happened about a month after Walker’s fiancée, Jaymeisha Beasley, died in a car accident on Interstate 71 near Akron.
In addition to questions about the video release, DiCello and others called for community unity and continued peaceful protests.
DiCello noted that Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, during a July 11 press conference, apologized to the Walker family but he said that’s not good enough.
“It was what I call a presentation apology,” DiCello said. “A presentation that did not feature this video, a presentation which portrays Jayland Walker as a monster, someone who deserved what he got, a presentation that went in reverse chronological order to establish the legitimacy of the violence that they acted upon when they took Jayland’s life,” DiCello said.
“So, you know,” DiCello said, “while I recognize that he spoke to a camera and said those things, there’s a manifest difference between that and what we would [want] and what they understand to be a public apology from the city.”
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