AKRON, Ohio — The legal team representing the family of Jayland Walker held a press conference Tuesday to discuss recently released video showing the moments following Walker's fatal shooting at the hands of Akron police officers back in June.
The bodycam footage, obtained following a lawsuit filed by the Akron Beacon Journal, shows Walker appearing to move briefly after dozens of shots were fired into him by the eight officers involved following a vehicle pursuit. As officers handcuffed Walker and began medical assistance (he was already dead by that time), one officer can be heard saying, "Go blue," before the group begins to turn off the microphones on their body cameras. Later, a female officer at the scene turns off her camera altogether after a suggestion from a colleague.
At today's briefing, attorney Bobby DiCello blasted the police department's actions throughout the investigation and called on them to "set an example of transparency." He also wondered why the additional footage was not released when bodycam video of the shooting itself was released just days after the incident, and wondered what the officers might have done or said when they could not been seen or heard.
"We call them heroes, don't we?" DiCello said of police. "What is heroic about turning off your camera Superman? What is heroic about turning off your microphone Wonder Woman?"
Walker was shot and killed in the June 27 situation. Police say Walker had fired a shot at one point during the vehicle pursuit, but was unarmed at the time officers opened fire as the chase continued on foot. A gun was later found in Walker's vehicle, according to police.
In a conversation with the Beacon Journal on Friday, Capt. Dave Laughlin says members of the department are permitted to turn off their cameras and microphones in certain situations, particularly when direct citizen contact is completed. As Walker was the only "citizen" involved in this incident, Laughlin claims that would be true here, although DiCello disagreed with that assessment.
Attorneys said Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett did admit there was more video when the two sides met months ago, although he did not indicate exactly what the footage entailed. Now, they are criticizing city leaders for allegedly misleading them during the process.
"We heard from the city back in early July, and they put on a show of what they believed they knew at the time," Ken Abbarno of the DiCello Levitt law firm told reporters. "But what's very confusing, what results in anger, is why didn't we hear the additional pieces to the story that are now beginning to make their way out? Why didn't we hear that microphones were turned off?"
Last week, a group held a march in Akron to mark "Justice For Jayland Walker Day" in which they outlined a "demand transparency and accountability from Akron’s officials." The family, assembled attorneys, and community leaders on Tuesday renewed their calls for a citizen review board that would have oversight over the police department (something Mayor Dan Horrigan supports), and DiCello also asked for better dialogue with the city.
"We ask the city to take action to reach out to this family, to my office," he said. "You have my number. You know were to reach me. Call me. We need to talk."
Per department policy, all eight officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Walker family has also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the matter.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story involving the Walker shooting on July 15, 2022.