AKRON, Ohio — As announced on Tuesday, the City of Akron has lifted its downtown curfew, which had been in effect on Monday and Tuesday night.
The curfew, which lasted from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on both nights, came in response to demonstrations regarding the officer-involved shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker. After the City of Akron released disturbing body cam footage that showed eight officers firing several shots at Walker during the June 27 incident on Sunday, approximately 50 people were arrested during protests and demonstrations, some of which resulted in damages to local businesses.
“The curfew was put in place due to safety concerns for our downtown corridor and our residents," Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said in a statement. "What I want our residents and community to know, is that we aren’t arresting protestors who choose to peacefully protest. Hundreds of citizens have protested in our community for days without incident, and we support their right to do so. In fact, we will take every step to make sure they can continue to do so safely. Those who were arrested were engaged in criminal behavior. They were becoming violent with officers and disrupting the peace which the community has been urging throughout this difficult time in our city. These individuals do not represent the larger gathering of peaceful protests and we won’t let them control the narrative of our community who are voicing their concerns. I continue to urge peace in our city and ask that if you see threats or instances of violence, that you report them.”
No arrests or serious incidents occurred downtown on Monday night, the first night that the curfew went into effect. It remains unclear whether any arrests were made on Tuesday, although the Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that tear gas was deployed by authorities during a demonstration outside of the Summit County Jail.
The incident involving Walker took place just after midnight on Monday, June 27, when officers attempted to pull over Walker’s car for a traffic and equipment violation. Walker proceeded to lead the officers on a high-speed chase down East Tallmadge Avenue toward State Route 8.
At some point during the pursuit, police say that Walker fired a gun out of the window of his car. Among the footage released on Sunday was a traffic video that showed a flash coming out of Walker’s car that they say is consistent with a gunshot.
Following the six-minute-long chase, Walker exited the car on Wilbeth Road near the Bridgestone Tire offices while wearing a black ski mask. The footage shows officers attempting to deploy non-lethal tasers before firing their guns and striking Walker, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
Police said that they fired their guns because Walker made a motion that caused them to fear for their lives. Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said that while it is difficult to see in a real-time viewing of the video, screen captures from the footage show Walker making multiple movements -- including Walker moving his hand to his waist area, turning toward the officers and making a forward motion with his arm -- that he said that each officer involved believed to be Walker moving into a “firing” position.
A gun, magazine round, and gold wedding ring were found in the passenger seat of Walker’s car. Mylett said that officers attempted to perform life-saving aid at the scene before Walker was pronounced dead.
Per department policy, the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave. Seven of the eight officers involved were white and none had previously faced work-related discipline. Walker is Black.
The incident is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.