By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA) – Authorities on Sunday released disturbing bodycam footage of Jayland Walker, an unarmed Black DoorDash delivery driver with no criminal record shot dozens of times by Akron Police Officers.
The lawyer for the 25-year-old’s family called it an execution, telling media members that police fired 90 shots, hitting the young man “60 to 80 times.”
As the video rolls, several officers are seen approaching Walker’s vehicle with their guns drawn.
Police Chief Stephen Mylett claimed Walker had a ski mask on, reached toward his waist during a foot chase, and turned toward pursuing police officers.
He claimed that’s when officers opened fire. Mylett said authorities found a weapon in Walker’s car, but it wasn’t clear if he discharged the gun.
He admitted that Walker didn’t exit the car with a gun.
While handcuffed and bleeding profusely from his wounds, Mylett claimed officers attempted to provide lifesaving help for Walker.
Officials placed the eight directly involved in the shooting on administrative leave.
“It was difficult to watch and shocking,” Mylett stated. “I’m not going to pass judgment.:
The chief and Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan commended Walker’s family for calling for peaceful demonstrations.
“The video is heartbreaking, and it’s hard to take in,” Horrigan said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI field office in Akron issued joint statements noting that they were “closely monitoring and reviewing the circumstances.”
“The FBI continues to coordinate with state and local partners to provide resources and specialized skills,” officials wrote in the statement.
“If the evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take appropriate action.”
To quell tensions, Horrigan announced the cancellation of Akron’s Fourth of July Festival.
Walker’s family attorney Bobby DiCello called for a federal investigation.
“It’s going to stir up some passion. It’s going to make people uneasy,” DiCello asserted.
Former Democratic Ohio Congresswoman Nina Turner told her more than 534,000 Twitter followers that the DOJ must investigate.
“Jayland was unarmed and running away when police opened fire, firing 90 shots, hitting him 60,” Turner wrote as she posted the bodycam video. “The Department of Justice needs to step in to investigate immediately.”
Turner noted that officers were reckless.
“The cop almost shot two other cops,” she tweeted. “Just absolute recklessness.”
Turner then compared the incident to another Ohio shooting.
“This is like Cleveland all over again, with the 137 shots fired at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams,” Turner recalled. “Jayland’s family is urging protestors to remain peaceful. Something has to change.”
In November 2012, more than 60 Cleveland Police officers pursued a vehicle driven by Russell and Williams, whom authorities claimed had fired on them – it turned out their car simply suffered a backfire.
The 23-mile chase ended when officers surrounded the vehicle and opened fire, killing the unarmed African American couple in the middle school parking lot.
A jury later acquitted two officers charged with manslaughter. Eventually, six Cleveland officers were fired for their actions.
Walker’s family said they are wary of their deceased loved one becoming demonized.
“They want to make him a masked monster,” DiCello stated. “I’m glad the police chief made one thing clear – he was unarmed.”
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), known as the Black Press of America, is the federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers in the United States.