AKRON, Ohio — During Thursday's press briefing to address the police officer involved fatal shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett was asked about reports that officers in the city are no longer wearing badges or name tags.
And while Mylett said that officers are still wearing badges, he did admit that he has instructed officers to remove their name tags due to threats stemming from Walker's shooting.
"Every officer is wearing a badge. I authorized them to take their name tags off because of the threats that were made against our officers and the bounties that were placed on officers' heads," Mylett said. "People were getting their names off of their uniforms, getting on social media and elsewhere and going into our Facebook page here in the police department to identify, get a picture, send that picture and that image out into the public. In some instances, they got family photographs and put it out on social media. But because of the threats that were made against our officers, I authorized them to take off their name tags."
Mylett said that any officer who is asked for his or her identifying information is directed to provide their employee number and if the person was not satisfied with that, a supervisor would be summoned to the scene to deal with the situation.
The fatal shooting of Walker has led to protests and demonstrations in Akron, which intensified after the city released bodycam footage of the June 27 incident on July 3, showing eight officers opening fire on Walker. The incident began when officers attempted to pull over Walker's car for a traffic and equipment violation before he 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 July 3 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.
While Horrigan couldn't confirm how man shots were fired at Walker, he said that he expected the number to be "high" and that the initial medical reports showed that he had 60 bullet wounds.
Police said that they fired their guns because Walker made a motion that caused them to fear for their lives. 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.
In the days following the incident and release of the bodycam footage on July 3, protests in the Akron area have resulted in several arrests and prompted Horrigan to implement multiple curfews in the downtown area, including one from 11 p.m.-5 a.m., which has remained in effect since on Monday night. Horrigan said on Thursday that this city is continuing to review its need for a curfew on a daily basis, with no arrests being made related to protests on Wednesday.