AKRON, Ohio — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett were scheduled to take part in a public discussion Thursday afternoon centering around the shooting death of Jayland Walker at the hands of eight officers, but did not show up.
Coalition For A Safe Community of Akron President Teresa Williams told 3News both Horrigan and Mylett had agreed to attend the forum at the Ed Davis Community, which began at 5:30 p.m. Instead, neither came, with Chairman John Wesley Sharp saying no specific reason was given.
However, Lt. Michael Miller from the Akron Police Department told 3News' Emma Henderson Mylett did not come because he believed the meeting had been canceled. It is not clear at this time why the chief was under that impression, but Sharp did not believe that was true.
The talk focused on not just Walker, but on larger issues some feel have persisted for decades. According to those present, 11 Black individuals have died in confrontations with Akron police since 1999.
"We can't do it all right this second, but for this moment, there are things we have already addressed," Akron NAACP President Judi Hill said.
Leaders from the Freedom BLOC, NAACP, and the city's Racial Equity and Social Justice task force came to the Coalition for a Safe Community because they all have similar goals, and several ideas popped up including creating an independent Citizen Review Board for policing, looking at qualified immunity, which gives law enforcement discretion when it comes to deadly force, and getting Akron Police Department vehicles dash cameras.
Walker, who was laid to rest Wednesday, died after being shot dozens of times by police following a car chase. Authorities claim the 25-year-old fired a gun out of his vehicle during the pursuit and made a motion that made the officers fear for their lives, but Mylett did confirm Walker was indeed unarmed when he was shot, with a weapon later found in the front seat of his car.
In the weeks since Walker's death and the release of body camera footage of the incident, criticism of city leaders has grown, with Walker's family's lawyers criticizing both Horrigan and Mylett for not issuing a public apology as well as alleged violence by cops during some of the recent protests. On the other side, Mylett claims a number of his officers have received death threats, and that he has advised them to not wear their name tags for their own safety.
Downtown Akron currently remains under a nightly curfew from 11 p.m.-5 a.m. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is still looking into Walker's killing, and the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office has said it will release its findings on Walker's autopsy Friday.
You can re-watch Thursday's full forum in the player below: