Jayland Walker, the 25-year-old black man shot dead by police in Akron, Ohio on June 27, was clearly unarmed when he was fleeing from police and the use of force was “exaggerated”, told Insider a former police officer and criminal justice expert.
“The shooting itself was exaggerated,” said Kalfani Turè, assistant professor at Mount Saint Mary’s University. “And I can’t think, in my career in law enforcement, that this number of police officers would respond.”
Officers attempted to arrest Walker for a traffic violation at 12:30 a.m. on June 27, according to a police statement. Police say Walker refused to stop and drove off in his vehicle. A chase ensued and officers reported that a firearm had exploded in the vehicle.
On Sunday, the Akron Police Department released photos and video footage of the June 27 shooting. The final moments of footage released to the public show Walker opening her car door while still in motion and fleeing from officers. Police said Walker was wearing a ski mask. Officers yell at Walker and tell him not to move.
The officers then pull out their tasers and attempt to hit Walker, but are unsuccessful, and Walker continues running. As Walker approaches a parking lot, the officers draw their guns and shoot him. Several bullets hit Walker as his body rolled on the ground.
In the statement, the APD said officers shot Walker because they perceived him to be a “deadly threat”.
During Sunday’s press conference, police said they found 60 gunshot wounds on Walker’s body, but could not determine whether they were exit or entry wounds.
“You can see his riddled body,” Turè said. “You can even see an officer who I think was a sergeant at the scene telling the officers to stop shooting and they keep shooting.”
Police said they tried to save his life by administering aid and called emergency medical services. However, Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bobby DiCello, an attorney for Walker’s family, said police handcuffed Walker before administering the aid.
The eight officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave, the APD said.
Turè told Insider that when he watched the video he thought it was clear that Walker was unarmed and noted that he did not appear to be making any gestures that would appear threatening. He also said that because the officers drew their tasers before their weapons, they did not perceive a threat.
“So when police officers use the term they perceive as a threat – a deadly threat – it’s often legalistic and it’s meant to cover up the officer for the actions that have been committed,” Turè told Insider.
Turè, who considers himself an advocate for police reform, further criticized the officers’ actions saying they should have focused on preserving Walker’s life and that officers are trained not to shoot. on people during their flight.
While it’s unclear whether the officers will be held criminally responsible, the incident will deepen the rift between black and brown communities and police officers, Turè said.
Police released a photo from a traffic camera showing what they claim was Walker’s gun that went off in his car, but Turè said the photos were unclear and “inconclusive”. He also criticized the lack of footage from dash cameras in the officer’s cars, which could have captured the alleged event.
ODA also released images of a handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring found in Walker’s car seat. The objects may have shown that Walker was in distress, Turè said. DiCello previously noted that Walker’s fiancé, Jaymeisha Beasley, died in a car accident in June.
“Only Mr. Walker knows what his state of mind was and what was going on at the time, but we don’t have him to testify today,” Turè told Insider. “We won’t get his side of the story because the police department or the officers involved determined, at least in this incident, that his life was not worth preserving. And that’s very unfortunate.”
The Akron Police Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.