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Akron marks day of mourning for Jayland Walker’s funeral

Akron marks day of mourning for Jayland Walker’s funeral
Unarmed Jayland Walker, 25, was shot more than 60 times by Akron police officers following a foot chase after a traffic stop

City officials in Akron, Ohio, declared that a day of mourning would be held across the city to coincide with the funeral for Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black motorist who fled a minor traffic stop on foot and was shot and killed by police officers.

“Tomorrow, Jayland Walker, a beloved son, brother, nephew, and friend will be laid to rest,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan in a statement following the unanimous passage of the resolution to declare Wednesday, 13 July as a city-wide day of mourning for Walker.

“I know our entire city is also grieving. I offer my sincerest condolences to Jayland’s mom, sister, family, and friends during this difficult time,” the mayor added a day ahead of the day of mourning.

On 27 June, Walker was pulled over for a routine traffic stop and equipment violation, but after he allegedly refused to stop, a foot chase ensued.

According to police body camera footage that was released one week after the deadly incident, it showed Walker – who was wearing a ski mask – jump out of the front of the still-moving vehicle and launch into a chase into a parking lot.

The footage also revealed that a group of officers fired a barrage of bullets at the unarmed 25-year-old, with some estimating that as many as 90 shots were fired off during the chase. The medical examiner later confirmed that more than 60 of those bullets hit Walker.

The mayor declared a state of emergency after outrage over the unarmed man’s killing sparked protests across the city, and even led to the introduction of a city-wide curfew and a cancelling of the Fourth of July fireworks display.

Eight of the officers involved in the fatal shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.

In the resolution passed by Akron City Council this week, the document acknowledges that city officials support “the rights of citizens to assemble and engage in peaceful demonstrations” and added that the city urges “the community to seek peace and to engage in respectful dialogue”.

The city-wide day of mourning will commence with services for Walker at 1pm being held at the Akron Civic Theatre. The resolution noted that this portion of the services are open to anyone who wishes to memorialise Walker, and that they will be making city-owned parking decks in downtown Akron free tomorrow “for anyone who wishes to come to the memorial at the Akron Civic Theatre”.

After the memorial, family members of Walker will hold a press conference to discuss their deceased relative’s death and what’s being done to right the wrong of his untimely passing.

An investigation into the deadly incident is being handled by the Akron Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who will turn their findings over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office once they’ve conducted their probe.

In an interview with News 5 Cleveland, Chief Steve Mylett of the Akron police department said that 40 seconds or half a mile into the police chase, officers on the scene allegedly heard a gunshot.

The chief also said that a camera belonging to the Ohio Department of Transportation captured images of what the force claims to be a muzzle flash from Walker’s car, though this has yet to be confirmed elsewhere.

Chief Mylett also told News 5 that officers reportedly recovered a handgun, magazine and gold ring from the driver’s seat of Walker’s car, who was at the time of the shooting unarmed.

Just days after the body camera footage from the police officers was released, US President Joe Biden issued a statement offering his condolences to the family and noted that the “Justice Department of Civil Rights Division of the FBI field office in Akron, Ohio, and the local US Attorney’s Office are closely monitoring and reviewing what happened”.

“The FBI continues to coordinate with state and local partners to provide resources and specialised skill. If the evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take the appropriate action. And I just want you to know what is going to happen,” the president said.

During the second briefing about the shooting, the chief said that he hasn’t heard any updates from the FBI recently and said that he wouldn’t be disclosing any actions “they’re taking or any actions that have been taken on their behalf”.

“This is a traumatic time for them and their families as it is for all of our police officers here,” said Chief Mylett.

The officers involved in the shooting have not been identified.