Akron imposes state of emergency after Ohio police kill unarmed black man

Jayland Walker died after fleeing a traffic stop

A demonstrator confronts troopers in riot gear in Akron, Ohio, after anger on the streets following the police shooting of an unarmed black man. AFP
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The US city of Akron, Ohio, declared a state of emergency on Monday, setting a curfew and cancelling Independence Day fireworks after protests against the police killing of an unarmed Black man who was shot 60 times.

Protests broke out after police released body camera video that showed eight officers shooting at Jayland Walker, 25, as he fled a traffic stop last week.

Similar killings in recent years gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and raised questions over the use of force by American police, especially where they encounter racial minorities.

Daytime protests on Sunday were peaceful, but Akron police declared an unlawful assembly once property was damaged and officers in riot gear fired about a dozen canisters of teargas to move protesters.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said a curfew for downtown Akron was in effect from 9pm to 6am until further notice, and Fourth of July holiday fireworks displays were cancelled.

“There was significant property damage done to downtown Akron. Small businesses up and down Main Street have had their windows broken. We cannot, and will not, tolerate the destruction of property or violence,” Mr Horrigan said.

Attorney Bobby DiCello, representing the family of Jayland Walker, holds up a photograph of the dead man. AP)

White House spokesman Andrew Bates said the Justice Department, including the Civil Rights Division and the FBI field office in Akron, is closely monitoring and evaluating the situation surrounding Walker’s death.

“This footage is disturbing,” Mr Bates said. “And no family should ever have to endure the horrific pain and loss of a loved one that the Walker family is experiencing right now.”

Police said Walker had a gun in his car but left it on the front seat as he fled on foot.

Officers believed he fired a round from inside the car before fleeing, police said, and that Walker was “moving into firing position” when he got out of his car, prompting them to react to him as a potential threat, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said.

On Sunday, Bobby DiCello, the lawyer for the Walker family, said he was “very concerned” by the police accusation that Walker had fired at officers from his car, adding that there was no justification for his violent death.

“I ask you, as he's running away, what is reasonable? To gun him down? No, that's not reasonable,” Mr DiCello said.

The Ohio attorney general and Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation are investigating, and the file will be made public at the conclusion of the case, Attorney General Dave Yost said on Sunday.

“People want and deserve answers, and they shall have them. BCI will conduct a complete, fair and expert investigation,” Mr Yost said in a statement

The eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, the Akron police chief said.

Updated: July 05, 2022, 3:43 AM
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