AKRON, Ohio — Black elected leaders across Northeast Ohio are reacting to the shooting death of Akron resident Jayland Walker at the hands of police amid an overnight chase.
3News Investigates confirmed that Walker was struck dozens of times as more than 90 shots were fired by eight police officers early on Monday.
“I join with so many in the Akron community in mourning the death of Jayland Walker, who was revered as ‘a neighbor, brother, and nephew’ and, I’m sure, so much more,” said Rep. Shontel Brown, whose 11th Congressional District includes Akron. “I am gravely concerned about the killing of a young Black man at the hands of police, especially as it happens all too often across this country. As we await further details regarding the shooting, I urge the City of Akron and its Police Department to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to fully inform Mr. Walker’s family and our community and ensure accountability.”
Officers say Walker made a motion that caused them to fear for their lives. At some point, police say Walker fired a gun during the situation.
"The gun Walker is believed to have fired was still in his car," according sources in previous reporting from Phil Trexler and Marisa Saenz of 3News' Investigates. "Shell casings from his gun were found inside his car and on the roadway near state Route 8, police sources told 3News Investigates."
The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is the department’s policy.
The Black Elected Officials of Summit County are calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting. "We are extremely exhausted by the continued playing out of Black men and women being gunned down at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. The Black Elected Officials of Summit County call for practical police reform to prevent police brutality and implicit bias and for The Department of Justice to step in and investigate the shooting and killing of Jayland Walker," said BEOSC president and Summit County Councilwoman Veronica Sims in a statement.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett will hold a 1 p.m. press conference on Sunday, July 3, that "will provide further details of the officer-involved shooting of Jayland Walker."
"Chief Mylett will be meeting with members of the Walker family and their representation before the press conference to allow them the opportunity to review the footage before the media and public," according to a press release sent early Friday afternoon from city officials.
As the situation continues to unfold, Horrigan announced the city’s Rib, White and Blue Festival has been canceled for the entire July 4 holiday weekend. Some protests have already taken place in the area since Monday's shooting.
"As Black people, we are too often considered suspect and perceived as threatening, which is why the killing of Mr. Walker is so disturbing. After being shot 60 times, police still deemed it necessary to bind his hands in cuffs. Mr. Walker was already dead. When are we not a threat? The Summit County Black Elected Officials offer our sincerest condolences to the loved ones of Jayland and assure that we will be vigilant and watchful as the investigation details unfold,” Sims added.
Meanwhile, Akron NAACP President Judi Hill is echoing calls of peace and understanding. "I think in fairness and respect of the family, we need the information. They’re asking for calm. They understand the anger and frustration people are feeling but they’re asking for calm until we get all the information and see how the police department wants to work with everyone and resolve this as quickly as we can."
Hill adds she believes Mylett is working to be transparent in the case, saying she thinks Akron's police chief has 'been open and honest.'
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