Hundreds of people in Akron, Ohio gathered outside the police department’s headquarters and marched through the city late Sunday, demanding justice for Jayland Walker after police footage was released showing that the 25-year-old Black man had been fatally shot from behind at least 60 times by officers as he tried to flee from a traffic stop on June 27.
Demonstrators chanted Walker’s name and “No justice, no peace!” outside the police department and the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, where they were confronted officers in riot gear, as the protest continued into evening.
Scene outside Buchtel High. Davontae winchester, at the top. “We are here for the Walker family.” pic.twitter.com/3m8MnUrvWE
— Molly Walsh (@MollyWaIsh) July 3, 2022
According toLocal news outlet WKYCAfter some protesters knocked down the barriers outside the police headquarters building, police officers deployed twelve tear gas canisters on the protesters.
Rev. R. Stacey Jenkins was a pastor at House of Prayer for All People who joined the protests told The Akron Beacon Journal The bodycam footage did not show evidence that the police tried to peacefully deescalate Walker’s confrontation.
“Nothing can bring him back, but we can honor his life by seeing some quality change in how we police,” Jenkins told the newspaper.
The police department appeared to double down on defending the officers’ actions by responding to the community’s outcry with force, Jenkins suggested.
“I would respect them better if they would say, ‘We made a mistake,’” he said. “If they would say, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t have used so much force.’”
Olayemi Olurin, a public defender for Legal Aid in New York, called the “militarized” police response to the protests “insane, terrifying, and outrageous.”
I don’t know how to express the horror, terror, and absurdity of police shooting someone 60 times, SIXTY TIMES, for a traffic stop. The government responds by sending in militarized officers to beat and arrest anyone who disagrees. https://t.co/xkUWKTXqX7
— Olayemi Olurin (@msolurin) July 4, 2022
Walker’s killing sparked protests and demands for the release of bodycam footage last week, as the community learned that he’d been killed after officers chased Walker during an “investigation of an unspecified traffic violation,” as the Washington Post reported.
Police claim Walker fired a gun from his vehicle, but Walker’s family disputes this claim. Walker was reportedly unarmed when Walker left his vehicle and was pursued by officers on foot.
“The police can do whatever they want,” a woman attending the protest told WKYC. “They can take our children’s lives and think it’s okay.”
An autopsy report states that eight officers were involved. According to the autopsy report, the chase ended with police shooting about 90 rounds and Walker being shot roughly 60 times.
“He was outgunned, outmanned,” Judi Hill, president of The Akron NAACP, told the Beacon Journal. “There’s just no reason for any of this.”
Activist Fela Sautton noted that Akron police officers had recently attended a Juneteenth event in which they met with Black community members. This gives hope to residents for better relations between law enforcement agencies and the Akron area.
“You can’t build community relations doing things like [Walker’s killing],” Sutton told the Beacon Journal. “There is no reason to shoot somebody 60 times.”