Popular anger is brewing in Akron, Ohio and throughout the United States following the latest heinous police killing of a young unarmed African-American worker. Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old DoorDash delivery driver and former Amazon employee, was shot and killed in a fusillade of nearly 100 bullets fired by at least eight police officers sometime after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Following the killing, and attempted police cover-up, small groups of protesters have gathered outside the Akron police department on Thursday and Friday carrying signs reading “Cops are Killers,” “Justice for Jayland” and “Arrest the Murderers.”
While the Akron Police Department has refused to name the officers involved in Walker’s slaying, the department did confirm that several cops have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of an “investigation” by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
In a statement issued on June 28, the police department claimed that Walker refused to pull over after a traffic stop was initiated for unknown reasons. After Walker allegedly refused to stop, police claim they were forced to engage in a“vehicle pursuit,” which lasted less than five minutes.
The police, in an attempt to justify their unrestrained zeal in executing Walker, claimed that during the vehicle pursuit, “officers reported a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle.” They have since claimed to have recovered a gun from the vehicle.
The police statement then alleges that Walker exited his vehicle while it was still in motion and continued to flee from police on foot. As Walker was fleeing from the cops, they claimed that “actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them. In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.”
What exact “actions” Walker took while he was running away that apparently “caused the officers” to “perceive” a deadly threat, have yet to be elaborated. Police have confirmed that Walker was unarmed at the time of the shooting and that no officers were injured in either the vehicle or foot pursuit.
Police have confirmed that Walker did not have any warrants and that he had no criminal record. The traffic stop police claim was over “traffic” and “equipment” violations, but they have not elaborated on exactly what the violations entailed.
Initial autopsy and medical examiner reports viewed by local press outlets have confirmed that Walker, who recently lost his high school sweetheart in a hit-run accident in May of this year, was shot at least 60 times by police. Several reports citing unnamed police sources have stated that police fired nearly 100 rounds at Walker.
On Friday, ABC News 5 investigative reporter Tara Morgan viewed photographs of the scene and Walker’s autopsy at the Summit County Medical Examiner’s office. Morgan reported that autopsy photos showed “more than 60 markers indicating defects on Walker’s body.”
The documents and photos show that there were “multiple gunshot wounds” to Walker’s “face, abdomen and upper legs,” with bullet wounds under Walker’s left eye and below his chin. The photos also show that after executing Walker, police placed his corpse under arrest by handcuffing Walker and rolling him onto his back on the pavement. When emergency services arrived to the scene, they declared the handcuffed Walker dead.
The circumstances surrounding the killing of Walker remain extremely murky as police have refused to release more details as to what led to the initial “traffic” stop or why Walker fled from police. As of this writing, the police have not publicly released any of the body camera footage.
Giving some indication of the scale of the criminality and frenzied violence meted out by police against the young worker, an unnamed police official told local NBC outlet WKYC 3, “Use of force cases are always ugly. This case is ugly times 10.”
Confirming the police barrage was completely unwarranted, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett was forced to admit during a Wednesday press conference that the “public is going to have legitimate questions and I’ve got questions.”
In the face of growing protests and rising social anger, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (Democrat) announced that he and Mylett will be holding a press conference on Sunday during which some portions of the body camera footage will be released.
Horrigan also announced on Friday that in light of the shooting, the city-planned “Rib White and Blue” festival, which was set to begin on July 1 and run through July 4, had been canceled. Instead of music and food, police have coordinated the deployment of city snow plow trucks outside the Akron police department to act as a barricade in anticipation of mass protests once the footage is released.
Seeking to divide and dissipate righteous class anger among all races at unending police violence, Ohio Democratic Representative Shontel Brown released a statement Friday attempting to frame the killing of Walker as a product of racism. Brown said that they were “gravely concerned” about the killing “of a young Black man at the hands of police, especially as it happens all too often across the country.”
Attempting to provide legitimacy to the murderous police and their ability to investigate themselves, Brown “urged” the City of Akron and “its Police Department to conduct a through and transparent investigation.”
The Democratic Party’s obsessive focus on race is meant to obscure the class function of police as the front-line enforcers of capitalist rule. Brown and the Democratic Party are terrified that a mass movement of the working class against the source of police violence—the capitalist system—will emerge, which is one of the reasons the Democrats and groups like Black Lives Matter ignore virtually every police killing of any white person, such as 22-year-old Michigan worker Joe Nagle and 12-year-old Thomas Siderio in Philadelphia.
The fact is, police violence is overwhelmingly focused on poor working class men of all races, with rural white men suffering similar rates of death at the hands of police as urban black men.
While police have yet to release any of the body camera footage, the police have allowed some members of the Walker family to see parts of it.
In a Friday interview with WKYC 3, the lawyer for the Walker family, Robert DiCello, said that police invited him to watch some of the footage. DiCello said the tape he saw contradicted police claims that the shooting was justified or that Walker posed a deadly threat to the police.
“The shooting is absolutely not justified based on what the video shows,” DiCello said. “The video makes absolutely clear, he [Walker] makes no gesture, he doesn’t point at them [the police], he doesn’t stop and turn towards them. He doesn’t square his shoulders to them. He is seen running away when the gunfire erupts. That’s it.”
DiCello added that the public is “going to be most bothered by the violence.” He said that there was “a lot of gunfire. It sounds like fireworks are going off.”
Pastor and Walker family member, Robert DeJournett, who also saw some of the footage for the first time on Friday, said in an interview with WKYC 3 that he was “shocked.”
“I was really caught off guard. They tried to prepare us that the video was troubling. The first word out of my mouth was ‘Jesus.’ I just broke down.”
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