Jayland Walker Shot By Police Officers in Akron, Ohio
On June 27, 2022, a 25-year-old African American man named Jayland Walker was shot and killed by police officers in Akron, Ohio, after fleeing a routine traffic stop. Walker had a traffic ticket and no criminal history, and the police stated that they attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation and equipment violation. There were eight police involved in the chase altogether, with seven of these officers being white and the remaining member Black. However, what started as a simple inspection led to a much more dangerous and traumatic fatal encounter.
The officers tried to stop Walker’s vehicle at around 12:30 am. However, about forty seconds after the attempt to initiate the stop began, a gunshot was fired from Walker’s car. According to the police, a flash of light also came from the driver’s side of the vehicle. The ensuing chase lasted over seven minutes, and recovered police body camera footage showed the following chain of events. The car rolled to a stop, Walker exited the vehicle while wearing a ski mask, and one officer yelled, “Let me see your hands,” and told him not to move. As Walker stood next to the car, a police officer unsuccessfully attempted to use a stun gun. However, Walker returned to his car and drove forward slowly. Shortly after, he exited the vehicle and started fleeing on foot. The narration of the video footage stated that the police officers tried to “safely take the suspect into custody by deploying their Tasers,” however, this was unsuccessful, and Walker kept running away. Akron police chief Stephen L. Mylett stated that Walker subsequently turned to the police officers chasing him and motioned towards his waist. Mylett also confirmed that the subject was unarmed after he fled his car. When Walker turned towards the officers, they responded by opening fire on Walker, who fell to the ground. Towards the end of the released video, at least one of the officers can be heard shouting, “Cease fire.” Walker’s cause of death was multiple gunshots to the upper legs, abdomen, and face.
The eight officers directly involved were placed on paid administrative leave since the shooting.
Mr. Walker’s girlfriend had recently passed away, and a photo released by the police featured a handgun and gold ring on the car seat and a loaded magazine. According to Bobby Dicello, one of the lawyers for the Walker family, Mr. Walker had purchased the gun recently, and there were no bullets found inside it after Mr. Walker’s passing. Furthermore, Dicello states that Walker “was not familiar with firearms, and we do not know if it accidentally fired. But police did find no bullets in the handgun when they found it in the car after his death.”
It is unclear why Walker fled the police in the first place, as his family states that he was not a criminal. The police announced that over sixty wounds were identified on Walker’s body. Still, officials need to investigate this number more to determine the precise number of rounds the police fired and the number of times the bullets hit Walker. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is overseeing an inquiry; after this concludes, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office will review the case.
Some people believe this instance of police brutality was a “routine” police practice, but not the one they had in mind. This turn of events has led to more citizen and organization-led peaceful protests, as well as another big push for Black Lives Matter support. Many human rights groups and local politicians such as Rashawn Ray have expressed sadness and outrage at this shooting, and many demonstrators peacefully protested. Republican Governor Mike DeWine has suggested changes to the current Ohio laws for police reform, but these ideas have not become bills. Democratic lawmakers have also proposed bills that have yet to be passed.
Although many individuals have drawn attention to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is clear that there still needs to be more push for change in this country in order to stop the brutality and violence that occurs. The murder of Jayland Walker is just one example of social injustice that exists in our society.