The family of Jayland Walker condemned police violence against protesters outraged over the police killing of the 25-year-old Black man and urged officials in Akron, Ohio, to allow people to demonstrate peacefully.
"We are hurting. Our family is hurting. And we do believe in protest," Pastor Robert DeJournett, Walker's relative, said at a news conference on Monday. "People should — when we are angry, we're hurting — people should be able to demonstrate in a nonviolent way. And that goes for our police department too. Because they should be acting in a nonviolent way as well."
There have been largely peaceful protests in Akron since police fatally shot Walker on June 27. Tensions increased after police released graphic body camera footage of the deadly encounter, and videos on social media show officers beating at least one protester and violently arresting others.
Family members of other victims of police violence were also arrested during protests in the past week. Breonna Taylor's aunt, Bianca Austin, and Jacob Blake Sr., whose son was paralyzed after being shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, were arrested on Wednesday night. Court records show that Austin and Blake were charged with rioting, disorderly conduct, and failure to disperse. Blake faces an additional charge of resisting arrest.
Police have said that they pursued Walker after he did not pull over during an attempted stop for a traffic violation. They claimed a shot was fired from his car; it's unclear if he did shoot, based on bodycam footage, but there appeared to be a flash coming from the driver's side of the vehicle. Police said Walker then stopped his car and ran out, and the officers chased him on foot.
"Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them," police said. "In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect."
Police fired more than 90 times at Walker, and he was struck by more than 60 bullets, Bobby DiCello, the family's attorney, previously told BuzzFeed News. Walker was also handcuffed after he died, DiCello said.
The city canceled 4th of July celebrations in anticipation of the release of body camera footage. Mayor Dan Horrigan also instituted an ongoing curfew in the downtown area.
At a briefing on July 3, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said Walker was unarmed when he left his vehicle, and that it was hard to tell why the officers shot at Walker based on the footage. Mylett said they do not yet know the "exact number of rounds fired" at Walker, but confirmed that the medical examiner found 60 wounds on his body.
The officers' response to the encounter changed when they believed Walker was shooting at them, Mylett said, as it shifted from "being a routine traffic stop to now a public safety issue."
The eight police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, per department policy.
DiCello has criticized city officials' response to the shooting and on Monday said they were attempting "to frame Jayland as someone he was not."
"They're trying to turn him into someone to be afraid of," DiCello said, pointing to the photos of Walker that police displayed at the July 3 news conference. "They've tried to make him the problem from day one."