AKRON, Ohio — On what would have been his 26th birthday, the family of Jayland Walker joined their legal team for a press conference Wednesday morning in Akron “to make a major announcement regarding the investigation.”
This update comes more than three weeks after he was shot and killed by Akron police amid an overnight chase.
During the press conference, attorney Bobby DiCello announced their request for the investigation regarding Walker's death to be handled by the United States Department of Justice instead of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
We streamed the entire press conference live, which you can watch in full below:
“The Bureau of Criminal Investigation for the Attorney General’s Office was brought in to maintain some form of trust, some form of integrity in this investigation," he said. "That’s what we were told. You did not hear us initially ask for a different investigative body to get involved because we wanted to give that opportunity to the state to run its investigation. We’ve given it that opportunity, and now we are calling for the Department of Justice to replace the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. This is no empty call. I’ve spoken with Sen. Sherrod Brown as recently as last night. He is facilitating our dialogue with the Department of Justice. We have reached out to Merrick Garland’s office directly. The mail should be arriving on his desk today. We join the NAACP in its request issued by President Derrick Johnson to have the Department of Justice get involved in this important legal matter.”
DiCello's request comes as the legal team alleges "possible collusion between the Fraternal Order of Police and BCI, which recently came to light in public statements about the investigation made by FOP leadership," they said in a press release. "These statements and FOP's knowledge of investigative findings that have not been shared with the Walkers' legal team have egregiously compromised the investigation."
When asked to elaborate on the evidence of this claim, DiCello responded with the following statement during Wednesday's press conference:
“The evidence that we have of collusion would include the statements by [Akron FOP President Clay] CoZart himself. I’ll use his words, not mine. He didn’t want to get into the specifics of the shooting. Now how does he know of the specifics of the shooting? The series of statements he makes pertains to the events of that previous night and the events of that night in terms of what the officers were actually thinking. ... There’s no way for him to know what another person thinks. So he either made that up or he’s being talked to or he’s talking to them."
Steve Irwin, the spokesperson for BCI, released the following statement after Wednesday's press conference:
"BCI shall remain steadfast in our commitment to independent investigations regarding officer involved shootings, and this case is no different.
"No updates have or will be provided to the FOP president or any other parties by BCI while the investigation is ongoing.
"The officers involved in the incident have a constitutional right to legal counsel like everyone else would in this situation.
"The family and the community deserves a thorough, independent investigation, and that is what they will get."
3News also reached out to Brown's office, which confirmed the senator has been in contact with the DOJ about possible next steps. A spokesperson also said Brown "has talked to Jayland Walker’s family over the course of this painful time."
The press conference also took a few moments to focus on Walker's birthday as the family played a video in his memory before his mother shared a brief statement.
“I can only go on memories right now. I can only go on memories," his mom, Pam, said. "The only thing that I can share with you guys is a memory of one of his birthday parties that I had for him in my back yard. At the time, he loved WWE wrestling. His favorite wrestler was Stone Cold Steve Austin.”
So she found an actor to come to his birthday party in the role of Stone Cold Steve Austin with a boombox to play his entry music.
“Jayland and his buddies were out in the back yard and they were playing, having a good time. All of a sudden I turned the music on and they froze in their steps, just looking around.”
That's when she said the actor walked out in character.
“He looked exactly like the man. … Their eyes were this big. Their mouths dropped to the ground. They couldn’t say anything for a few minutes.”
She said he had told them positive things for kids to hear.
“That’s one of the best memories I have of Jayland on his birthday. That was a really great party.”
Walker, who was laid to rest last Wednesday, was shot and killed on June 27 when eight Akron police officers opened fire amid an overnight chase. 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.
The Summit County Medical Examiner released its summary findings from Walker’s autopsy report last Friday, which included the following list of gunshot wounds:
- 17 gunshot wounds injured the pelvis and upper legs, causing internal injury to the right iliac artery (a major artery going to the leg), the bladder and fractures to the pelvis and both upper leg bones (femurs).
- 15 gunshot wounds injured the torso, and caused internal injury to his heart, lungs, liver, spleen, left kidney, intestines and multiple ribs.
- One bullet struck the face and fractured the jaw.
- Eight gunshot wounds injured the arms and right hand.
- Five gunshot wounds injured the knees, right lower leg and right foot.
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