By Praveena Somasundaram
Attorney Bobby DiCello holds up a photograph of Jayland Walker, the man who was shot dead by police in Akron, Ohio, on June 25, as he speaks on behalf of the Walker family during a news conference at St. Ashworth Temple in Akron on June 30. (Jeff Lange/USA Today/Reuters)
His death has caused outrage in the Akron community and across the country, sparking demands for justice and further examination of police use of force against Black people.
In a news conference Friday, Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler said Walker had 46 gunshot wound entrances or graze injuries, which included 15 exit wounds and five graze wounds.
His death has been ruled a “homicide, shot by others” by the medical examiner’s office, but the ruling is not a legal conclusion.
Attorneys representing the Walker family said the autopsy report “confirms the violent and unnecessary use of force by the Akron Police department.”
“The fact that after being hit nearly four dozen times, officers still handcuffed him while he lay motionless and bleeding on the ground is absolutely inhumane,” they said in a statement. “The family is devastated by the findings of the report and still await a public apology from the police department.”
Police said they chased Walker’s Buick after he didn’t pull over for an equipment and unspecified traffic violation. An officer said he heard a gunshot come from the Buick before Walker jumped out of the car and ran into a parking lot, with officers following — and eventually firing.
During a July 3 news conference, police released body-camera footage and said they found a handgun and loaded magazine in Walker’s car.
On Friday, Kohler said Walker’s hands were not tested for gunshot residue during the autopsy, a practice the office discontinued in 2016. While the test can detect gunshot residue, it cannot be used as an absolute judgment of whether a person fired a weapon, Kohler said, because the particles it detects can be easily removed.
The autopsy found evidence of medical interventions including tourniquets, gauze dressings, adhesive seals and defibrillator pads, according to Kohler. She also said Walker’s toxicology screen was negative for alcohol and drugs of abuse.
When the shooting footage was released, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said officers provided first aid after the shooting ended. That same day, Bobby DiCello, an attorney representing the Walker family, said lifesaving measures after dozens of rounds were fired were a “hopeless cause.”
The final autopsy report will be given to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), officials said Friday. The BCI investigation is independent of the police department.
When the investigation is complete, the Attorney General’s Office will review the case and present it to a Summit County grand jury to determine if the officers involved in the shooting will face criminal charges, according to police.
The eight officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the BCI investigation, as well as an internal investigation by the Akron Police Office of Professional Standards and Accountability.
Demonstrators have been protesting for weeks in Akron, alongside the Walker family, demanding change. City officials have canceled Fourth of July celebrations, implemented curfews and called for demonstrations to be peaceful.
On Wednesday, hundreds attended Walker’s funeral, during a citywide day of mourning for him.
During the service, the Rev. Robert DeJournett, a cousin of Walker, said the names of more than 10 Black people who were killed by police. The list ended with Walker.
“We can be conscious of [God’s] will and still demand justice for Jayland Walker and all the others,” DeJournett said.
What we know about the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker
(CNN)The city of Akron, Ohio, is on edge this Fourth of July, one week after the fatal police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker.
A news conference by city officials Sunday, along with the release of 13 police body camera videos, has started to paint a fuller picture of the shooting, which police say happened when Walker, who is Black, fled an attempted traffic stop early June 27.
Walker was unarmed at the time he was killed, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett told reporters. A gun was found in Walker’s vehicle after the shooting, police said, and officers said Walker fired a gun from his vehicle during the car chase.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan declared a state of emergency and issued a curfew for Monday night from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to a statement on the city’s website, “in order to preserve peace in our community.” A planned Fourth of July fireworks show has been canceled.
Protests Sunday started peacefully, but that changed after night fell, Horrigan said in a statement, adding there was “significant property damage done to downtown Akron.”
Police said they arrested around 50 people after dozens of protesters failed to disperse from the downtown area.
While the majority were peaceful, a group of “violent protesters” caused substantial property damage to nearby businesses, restaurants and residential structures, shattering windows and lighting small fires, according to a news release from the Akron Police Department.
Police initially provided verbal instructions to the protesters, offering “a reasonable amount of time to comply,” according to the release, but later deployed a “chemical irritant to prevent further rioting and property damage.”
Many questions about Walker’s death remain unanswered, and an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is ongoing, but here’s a breakdown of what we know so far.
What police say happened
Walker was killed in a burst of gunfire early last Monday, following a vehicle pursuit and foot chase that started when officers tried to stop him for traffic and equipment violations.
Walker fled the stop, according to a narrated video timeline police played at Sunday’s news conference, and officers gave chase.
Walker was wounded 60 times, chief says
A medical examiner’s report found Walker suffered at least 60 wounds as a result of the gunfire, Mylett said Sunday, though the medical examiner is still working to determine which are entrance wounds and which are exit wounds. The BCI will determine exactly how many times Walker was shot, Mylett said.
In the meantime, it remains unclear how many rounds were fired, though Mylett said he anticipates “that number will be high” based on the videos, in which dozens of gunshots are heard over seven seconds.
“A lot of rounds were fired,” Mylett said.
8 officers placed on leave
Eight police officers were “directly involved” in the shooting, Mylett said, and all have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation, according to department protocol.
According to information released by the city, seven of the eight officers are White and one is Black.
The officers are “cooperating fully” with the investigation, the Akron police union said in a statement, adding it believes the investigation will determine the officers’ use of force was justified — including the number of rounds they fired.
What the video shows
Walker’s family wants answers from police officials, their attorneys said in their own news conference Sunday, but they have also asked that any protests in response to Walker’s killing remain peaceful to honor his memory.
Walker “had never broken the law a day in his life — no crimes of any kind,” Bobby Dicello, one of the attorneys said.
Robert Dejournett, a relative of Walker’s and a local pastor, said the 25-year-old was fun-loving young man full of jokes, who was adored by everyone.
“We’re God-fearing folk who believe in God and we want to exemplify that even in this process,” Dejournett told CNN, “we don’t want any rioting or anything like that.”
“Personally, I want to scream out and be mad,” the pastor said, “but what is that gonna do?”