Akron Maintains Curfew in Wake of Walker Shooting

A curfew imposed in downtown Akron, Ohio, on Monday, July 4, continues in the aftermath of the death of Jayland Walker by police gunfire.

The curfew applies during the hours between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. It resulted in the cancellation of fireworks to celebrate July Fourth at several sites in the city. Municipal officials noted that although protests in response to the shooting were peaceful early on Monday, evening demonstrations turned violent and resulted in serious damage to businesses on Main Street. 

“We cannot and will not tolerate violence or the destruction of property,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (D) said in a statement.

As of Tuesday evening, the major has yet to rescind his emergency declaration. 

The 25-year-old Walker was suspected of traffic violations at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, June 27. After he fled police’s attempt to pull him over, officers pursued him southward on Route 8. 

During the chase, one of the officers reported the suspect fired his handgun at the policemen. That detail was corroborated by sounds and a flash of light on the driver’s side of Walker’s vehicle as recorded on police body cameras.

Walker ran from his vehicle wearing a ski mask after exiting onto the Archwood Avenue ramp and stopping on East Wilbeth Road. A foot chase ensued and officers unsuccessfully attempted to tase Walker. The suspect stopped and turned to face the officers and was shot more than 60 times, causing his death. 

The gunfire lasted for approximately seven seconds, ending as one of the officers yelled, “Cease fire!” The police department has stated that officers then rushed to Walker to attempt to aid him before learning for certain that he was dead. Police subsequently found Walker’s gun and a loaded magazine in his car’s driver’s seat.

Many law-enforcement critics have noted that Walker was black and insisted that the shooting was an act of racial injustice though, according to Akron police, one of the eight officers who fired upon Walker was himself African-American. All eight policemen are now on paid administrative leave. 

Numerous news reports from such outlets as PBS NewsHour and WKYC Channel 3 on the shooting and subsequent protests have failed to note that the suspect possessed or fired a gun during the highway chase.

Upon releasing video of the pursuit and shooting, Horrigan emphasized that the probe concerning the officers’ decision to discharge their weapons will demand some patience.

“The investigation, which is being conducted independently by an entity requested by [Police] Chief [Steve] Mylett, which is the [state] Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the [state] Attorney General’s Office, will take some time to work through,” Horrigan said. “And I am urging all of our residents: Please reserve your full judgement until the investigation is complete. And listen, you’ll have to do one of the most difficult things that I can ever ask somebody to do, and that is to please be patient and let the attorney general do their [sic] work.” 

City officials stressed that they sought the investigation to be conducted by outside authorities to guarantee the probe will be fair, a practice that Mylett has favored regarding police shootings since he took the helm at the department 10 months ago. “This has become best-practice in my profession,” he said. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Akron Police Department” by Akron Police Department.

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