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Jayland Walker: Black man 'unarmed' when police shot him dead

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
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Sandra Dees, left, and Marquita Carter cry in front of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, Sunday, July 3, 2022, in Akron, Ohio, after watching the bodycam footage
Sandra Dees, left, and Marquita Carter cry in front of the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, Sunday, July 3, 2022, in Akron, Ohio, after watching the bodycam footage   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Police have released bodycam footage of the moments leading up to officers shooting dead an unarmed black man in Akron, Ohio. 

Jayland Walker, 25, was killed on 27 June in a pursuit that had started with an attempted traffic stop.

Authorities said at a news conference on Sunday that the police involved believed Walker had shot at them earlier from a vehicle and was preparing to shoot again.

It's not clear how many shots were fired by the eight officers involved, but Walker sustained more than 60 wounds. 

An attorney for Walker's family said officers kept firing even after he was on the ground.

Walker was unarmed when he fled his vehicle and was pursued by officers, the attorney added. 

Police said a handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were later found on the seat of the car.

"One officer on bodycam footage can be heard saying he still has a pulse," Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett told a press conference. "As the officers were getting ready to put him into a police car to get them as quickly as possible to the hospital, Akron fire medics arrived on the scene, they took over aid and unfortunately, Mr Walker tragically passed at the scene."

In a statement shared Sunday with reporters, the local police union said the officers thought there was an immediate threat of serious harm, and that it believes their actions and the number of shots will be found justified in line with their training and protocols. The union said the officers are cooperating with the investigation.

Walker’s family is calling for accountability but also for peace, their lawyers said. One of the attorneys, Bobby DiCello, called the burst of police gunfire excessive and unreasonable and said police handcuffed Walker before trying to provide first aid.

“How it got to this with a pursuit is beyond me,” DiCello said.

He said Walker’s family doesn’t know why he fled from the police. Walker was grieving the recent death of his fiancee, but his family had no indication of concern beyond that, and he wasn't a criminal, DiCello said.

“I hope we remember that as Jayland ran across that parking lot, he was unarmed,” DiCello said.

He said he doesn’t know whether the gold ring found near the gun in the car belonged to Walker.