Akron, Ohio – A black man was shot and killed by Akron police officers in a hail of bullets after a car and was on foot chase unarmed at the time of the shooting, but a bullet appeared to come from the car during the chase, the officers said they were afraid and the authorities said he was preparing to shoot when they fired their guns.
Police on Sunday Video released The mayor described it as “heartbreaking” to stalk and shoot Gayland Walker, 25, while pleading with the community for peace and patience as the state’s investigation into the shooting continues.
Commander Steve Millett said officers attempted to stop Walker’s vehicle due to unspecified violations of traffic and equipment, but less than a minute into the chase a shot was heard from the vehicle and a DoT camera caught what appeared to be a muzzle flash coming from the vehicle. That changed the nature of the case from a “routine traffic stop to a public safety issue now,” Millett said.
Police said the car slowed down a few minutes later and Walker got out of the still-moving vehicle, wore a ski mask and fled on foot. A pistol, loaded magazine, and a wedding ring were found on the seat and a casing matching the weapon was later found at the point the officers believed a bullet came from the car.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use the stun devices, the foot chase continued into the parking lot, at which point gunfire could be heard. Millett said he’s seen the video dozens of times and it’s hard to distinguish Walker’s actions at the time, but one still image appears to show him “going down to his waist” and another image appears to show him walking toward an officer and a third image “captures a forward movement of his arm.”
After the shooting, Meitt said, the officers who fired the shots were turned away from each other and watched, and the detectives who arrived walked individually through the site.
“Each officer, independent of each other, said he felt Mr Walker had turned and was moving and moving to the firing position,” he said.
Millett said the officer shooting someone should be “willing to explain why they did what they did, and they should be able to explain the specific threats they were facing…and they should be held accountable.” But he said he refrains from judging their actions until they make their statements, and said the union president told him that everyone was “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Police said more than 60 wounds were found on the body, but that further investigations will be needed to determine how many shots the eight officers fired and how often Walker was injured. Millett said officers offered help, and one could be heard saying he still had a pulse, but was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost vowed to conduct a “full, fair and expert investigation” and warned that “body-worn camera footage is just one scene of the full picture – before conclusions can be drawn, the full review must be done.”
Officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, which is standard practice in such cases. Seven of them are white and one is black, according to the department. She added that their service with Akron Police ranges from one and a half to six years, and none of them have a history of discipline, proven complaints or fatal shootings.
Protesters marched peacefully through the city and gathered in front of Akron Justice Center after the video was released. NAACP President Derek Johnson said in a statement that Walker’s death was not in self-defence, but “was a murder.
One of the family’s attorneys, Bobby DeCillo, said the police shootings occurred even after Walker was on the ground, and that police handcuffed him before attempting to provide first aid.
“How it came to this by stalking is beyond me,” DeCillo said, adding that Walker’s family does not know why he fled the police. DeCillo said Walker was saddened by his fiancée’s recent death, but his family had no sign of concern otherwise.
“He was sad, but he was going through it,” DeCillo said. He said he did not know if the ring near the gun belonged to Walker.
The Walker family is calling for accountability, but also for peace.
“Anger is fine. Anger is understandable. Violence is not. Let us preserve the dignity of Gayland’s life as we peacefully demand justice,” the Walker family said in a statement to CBS News.