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Police in Akron, Ohio released video on Sunday showing the death of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old black man, who was shot 60 times by police seeking to arrest him for a traffic violation. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to express their anger.
Hundreds of people demonstrated Sunday, July 3 in Akron, Ohio (north of the United States), after the broadcast of a video showing the homicide by the police of a black man who, according to his lawyer, has been hit by 60 bullets.
As authorities called for calm, a crowd marched towards City Hall with banners calling for “Justice for Jayland”.
Jayland Walker, 25, was killed on June 27 while fleeing police on foot after a car chase following an attempted arrest for a traffic violation. A very violent video released by the police on Sunday shows the young man being riddled with bullets.
Anti-racist associations had called for a fourth day of demonstration on Sunday in this city of 190,000 inhabitants near Cleveland. These rallies remained peaceful, except for a tense moment when protesters approached a cordon of police and shouted at them.
After the first rally, a crowd remained in the streets to protest as night fell. No violence had been reported. However, fearing unrest, authorities have placed heavy equipment, such as snowplows, around the police station to protect it.
Initially stingy with information about the incident, Akron authorities finally unveiled two videos on Sunday. One is a compilation of videos and screenshots from individual police cameras, along with a commentary. The second is full footage of the chase and shooting, also from a police camera.
The commentary claims that Walker did not stop his car and drove away, that police began a chase, and that several officers claimed a shot was fired from Walker’s vehicle.
After several minutes of chasing, Walker got out of his still moving car and fled on foot. The police then tried in vain to subdue him with tasers.
Several of them followed him to a parking lot. The footage is too blurry to make out what happened next, but police said in a statement that the 25-year-old behaved in a way that raised fears of a “deadly threat”. All the police officers present opened fire, firing numerous bullets. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
This incident is reminiscent of other deaths of black men during interactions with the police, tragedies that sparked a great movement against racism and police violence.
“Many will want to air their grievances in public and I fully support our residents’ right to peaceful assembly,” said city mayor Dan Horrigan, saying he was “heartbroken.” “But I hope people will agree that violence and destruction are not the solution,” he said at a press conference. The city councilor also announced the opening of an independent investigation.
“I’ve been a lawyer for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything like what this video shows,” Bobby DiCello, an attorney for the victim’s family, told The New York Times.
According to Chief of Police Steve Mylett, a medical examiner’s report lists 60 wounds on Jayland Walker’s body. Bobby DiCello assures that the man was hit by 60 bullets.
The eight police officers implicated in his death have been administratively suspended with pay pending the end of the judicial investigation.
In a tweet on Sunday, basketball superstar LeBron James, from Akron, said he prayed for his city.