Ohio police release graphic bodycam video in fatal shooting of Jayland Walker

·8 min read

Ohio police released graphic body camera video and additional details Sunday about the shooting of Black motorist Jayland Walker, showing for the first time the moment eight officers released a barrage of bullets at Walker as he ran.

Akron officers said they tried to stop Walker, 25, on June 27 on unspecified traffic violations and chased him when he did not pull over, police said in a statement. Police said officers "reported a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle" during the pursuit.

Walker then jumped out of his car and officers chased him on foot, police said.

“Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” police said. “In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.”

Police said at a news conference Sunday that officers pursued Walker's car on the expressway for several minutes before they exited on a ramp.

After the chase on city streets, Walker's car slowed, and he got out through the passenger side door as the car continued to roll forward, police said. Officers tried to stop Walker using stun guns and opened fire after the stun guns failed, according to the department's retelling.

Police Chief Steve Mylett did not know the traffic or equipment violation officers cited in trying to pull Walker over.

Eight officers have been placed on paid administrative leave as part of protocol in a police shooting, Mylett said. The Ohio attorney general’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI, will lead the probe of police use of force.

In a statement Sunday, the Akron chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police said it believes investigators will find that the officers' actions and the number of shots were justified.

"Officers reasonably believed that Mr. Walker presented an immediate threat of serious physical harm or death and lawfully ... discharged their weapons," the statement said.

Walker’s family has questioned the use of deadly force. An attorney for the family, Bobby DiCello, said he reviewed the body camera video with the family Thursday. Police publicly released the body camera video Sunday from eight officers who opened fire and five others who were at the scene.

A protester stares down an Akron police officer outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center during a protest on July 2, 2022, in Akron, Ohio, after Akron police officers shot and killed Jayland Walker earlier. (Jeff Lange / Akron Beacon Journal via USA TODAY Network)
A protester stares down an Akron police officer outside the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center during a protest on July 2, 2022, in Akron, Ohio, after Akron police officers shot and killed Jayland Walker earlier. (Jeff Lange / Akron Beacon Journal via USA TODAY Network)

DiCello said that Walker was fleeing from police when they shot at him and that he has not seen any evidence yet about allegations that Walker shot at officers.

"They descend upon him, and the first two of many officers there use their Tasers," he said. "There can be no doubt he was unarmed at the time he exited the vehicle. It’s a nonlethal force when you have a nonlethal threat."

DiCello said Mylett did not claim during his viewing last week that Walker made any threatening moves that would have justified his killing.

"The chief told us Thursday when he showed us the video that he could not find the movement that caused the shot," he said.

DiCello told the Akron Beacon Journal on Saturday that dozens of shots were fired.

“He is just in a down sprint when he is dropped by I think the count is more than 90 shots,” DiCello told the newspaper. “Now, how many of those land, according to our investigation right now, we’re getting details that suggest 60 to 80 wounds.”

Citing autopsy photos and interviews with police sources, NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland reported that Walker was hit dozens of times. NBC News has not obtained a copy of the autopsy report.

Mylett confirmed Sunday that the medical examiner observed 60 wounds to Walker's body, but he said the injuries had not been differentiated between entrance and exit wounds.

"We do not know the exact number of rounds that were fired. … However, based on the video, I anticipate that number to be high. And I will not be surprised if the number at the end of the investigation is consistent with the number that has been circulating in the media, but right now we just don't know," Mylett said.

Asked about DiCello’s comments about not seeing Walker brandish a gun at officers, Mylett said that the investigation is still ongoing and that it is difficult to obtain details from watching the video in real time.

A handgun and a loaded magazine were found on the driver's seat, police said. Police went back to the scene where officers said they heard a gun being discharged from Walker's car, Mylett said.

"A casing was discovered at that location consistent with a firearm that Mr. Walker had in his vehicle. BCI will determine whether or not that casing came from the gun or not," he said.

Officers independently reported seeing Walker turn in a way that they thought might be a firing position, Mylett told reporters.

No gun was found on Walker’s body.

DiCello told NBC News that the gun appeared to be legal, and he emphasized that it was unloaded, even though ammunition was nearby. He also rebutted the department's contention that Walker fired one round during the pursuit, saying there is no evidence, besides officers' word, that that happened.

If Walker did shoot, he said, "the discharge of a firearm in the presence of police does not allow the police to shoot you."

He added that while some white suspects who are armed or who open fire in the presence of police live to face their days in court, "my client is in the morgue tonight, and all he did is run from his vehicle."

The Fraternal Order of Police said in its statement Sunday that a state Transportation Department camera recorded a muzzle flash as Walker led officers on the chase. The flash was highlighted in video police released Sunday.

DiCello spoke to reporters on behalf of Walker's family after the news conference, urging them to ask for peace following the release of the video.

"I came here to say what our message is, and that is peace," DiCello said. "If you can do anything for the family, please give peace. Give dignity and give justice a chance."

He reiterated the family’s wishes in an interview Sunday evening, saying, “Please, we want peace, and we want dignity, and we want justice for Jayland.”

The mood appeared tense late Sunday, with temporary barriers knocked down, at least one window smashed and an apparent dumpster fire, WKYC reported.

Officers in riot gear responded and tear gas was fired near the city’s Stubbs Justice Center and adjacent police headquarters, the station reported.

By early Monday, the number of demonstrators left on the streets seemed to have dwindled, with many of those remaining congregating in small groups.

DiCello, the lawyer for Walker’s family, said at the news conference that he had seen the video three times by the time he spoke Sunday and that it "doesn't get any easier."

"They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun, and we knew that," DiCello said. "But I want to thank the chief for one thing he said, at the time he was shot ... he was unarmed."

DiCello expressed a number of concerns to reporters about the investigation, including whether officers had made statements to the attorney general's investigators by Sunday. He also alleged that he was initially told that the gun in Walker's car was found in the back seat, even though police now say it was in the driver's seat.

Walker's girlfriend died a month before his death. DiCello said his family did not observe any issues about his behavior in his grief.

"I mean, he was sad, but he was getting through it, and the family was just as surprised as I am today. ... Knowing what's happened here is a big mystery for them," DiCello said.

He noted that Walker had no criminal history.

A review of public records by NBC News found no criminal records or civil lawsuits against Walker. The single record found in Walker's name was a 2017 speeding ticket in Akron Municipal Court.

Protesters have peacefully demonstrated in Akron for days, demanding more transparency and accountability in Walker's death.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, a native of Akron, tweeted that he was praying for his city before the news conference Sunday.

Mayor Dan Horrigan canceled the city's Fourth of July festivities amid the ongoing protests and the investigation, saying now "is not the time for a city-led celebration."

Horrigan urged residents before the video was released Sunday to remain peaceful, citing Walker's family's desire for them to refrain from violence.

"You’re going to have to do one of the most difficult things I can ever ask anyone to do and that is to please be patient and let the attorney general do their work," Horrigan said.

A rally was scheduled after the news conference, and a number of protesters gathered calmly awaiting speeches by local clergy, WKYC reported.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson described Walker's death in a statement Sunday as a "murder" and said pulling over for police "is often a death sentence."

"This Black man was killed — struck more than 60 times by 90 fired bullets — for a possible traffic violation," Johnson said. "This doesn't happen to white people in America. Why do police continuously target us like domestic terrorists? We are just trying to live our lives, and we are tired of being hunted like prey."