CLEVELAND — President Joe Biden visited Cleveland on Wednesday to discuss his financial plans. But before discussing his policies in a speech in front of union workers, Biden first addressed the police-involved shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker that occurred in Akron last week.
"Before I begin, I want to make one serious comment about the shooting and death of Jayland Walker," Biden said during his opening remarks at Max S. Hayes High School on West 65th Street. "The Justice Department and Civil Rights Division of the FBI field office in Akron, Ohio, and the local U.S. Attorneys Office are closely monitoring and reviewing what happened. The FBI continues to coordinate with state and local partners to provide resources and specialized skills. If the evidence reveals potential violations of the federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take the appropriate action."
Biden's comments come three days after the City of Akron released disturbing body cam footage that showed eight officers firing several shots at Walker during the incident, which occurred just after midnight on June 27. While Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said that he couldn't confirm how many shots were fired at Walker, he said that the number was "high," with initial medical reports indicating he was struck more than 60 times.
The release of the footage led to multiple protests and demonstrations in downtown Akron, which resulted in approximately 50 arrests and the city enacting a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew on Monday and Tuesday night.
The police's pursuit of Walker began when officers attempted to pull his car over 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.
You can watch President Biden's full speech in the video player below: