The family of a slain Black man is demanding answers from police after he was shot and killed following a vehicle pursuit for a traffic equipment violation.
“Jayland was a sweet young man. He never caused any trouble,” Lajuana Walker-Dawkins, Jayland’s aunt and the representative who spoke on behalf of the family, said. “We don’t know what happened. And we’d like to know. For the mother, the sister, the whole family, and the community.”
Akron Police Capt. Dave Laughlin says the incident began after midnight Monday (June 27) when two officers tried pulling over Walker's vehicle in the city's North Hill neighborhood. Soon after the pursuit started, cops claim a firearm was discharged from the Black man's car.
The chase went down Route 8 and I-77 until Walker, 25, allegedly exited into the Firestone Park Area, abandoned his vehicle, and fled on foot toward a parking lot. Laughlin says Walker's actions "caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them," leading to authorities using tasers and opening fire on the 25-year-old. A medical examiner's report revealed that Walker was shot in the face, abdomen, and upper legs.
Bobby DiCello, one of the attorneys representing Walker's family, called the 25-year-old a "law-abiding citizen" who "never offended or bothered a soul."
“There are eight officers who need to answer questions, and we hope they do,” he says. “We surely hope they engage in the process and be forced to answer the difficult questions…He was shot for a traffic violation. We’re here to find out how, we’re here to find out why, and here to hold those accountable so that these events don’t have to happen.”
The city also released a statement about the shooting, offering condolences to Walker's loved ones:
“We know that no police officer ever wants to discharge their service weapon in the line of duty. And anytime they must, it's a dark day for our city, for the families of those involved, as well as for the officers. Tragically, we are once again faced with a young man, with his life before him, gone too soon. Every single life is precious, and the loss of any life is absolutely devastating to our entire community. Our prayers are with Jayland Walker’s loved ones, and we offer our sincere condolences to all those who knew him. Our thoughts are also with our Akron police officers and their families.
"We want to reassure our citizens that more information will be coming in the following days, including the body-worn camera footage that recorded this incident. We are keeping our promise to the community, understanding that there can be no trust without transparency and follow-through on commitment.
"We have every confidence in the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation to conduct a thorough, fair, and honest investigation. We will cooperate fully with that investigation and have made it a top priority for our staffs. As a city, we are committed to this process and trust that it will yield a fuller understanding of this incident.”
Full bodycam footage of the incident will be released Sunday (July 3) under state law. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating Walker's death upon Akron Police's request.
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