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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jayland Walker was shot nearly four dozen times, autopsy results show

Protesters take to the streets of Akron demanding justice for Jayland Walker who was shot to death in a hail of bullets by eight Akron police officers after a car chase June 27.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Praveena Somasundaram Washington Post

A Black man was shot nearly four dozen times by police officers in Akron, Ohio, after they attempted to stop him over a traffic violation, according to autopsy findings announced Friday.

Jayland Walker, 25, was killed in late June by Akron police, who said he had fired a gun during a car chase. Eight police officers, seven of whom were white, fired a hail of bullets after the chase, when Walker was unarmed.

His death has caused outrage in the Akron community and across the country, sparking demands for justice and further examination of police use of force against Black people.

In a news conference Friday, Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler said that Walker had 46 gunshot wound entrances or graze injuries, which included 15 exit wounds and five graze wounds.

His death has been ruled a “homicide, shot by others” by the medical examiner’s office, but the ruling is not a legal conclusion.

Attorneys representing the Walker family said the autopsy report “confirms the violent and unnecessary use of force by the Akron Police department.”

“The fact that after being hit nearly four dozen times, officers still handcuffed him while he lay motionless and bleeding on the ground is absolutely inhumane,” they said in a statement. “The family is devastated by the findings of the report and still await a public apology from the police department.”

Police said they chased Walker’s Buick after he failed to pull over for an equipment and unspecified traffic violation. An officer said he heard a gunshot come from the Buick before Walker jumped out of the car and ran into a parking lot, with officers following – and eventually firing.

During a July 3 news conference, police released body-camera footage and said they found a handgun and loaded magazine in Walker’s car.

On Friday, Kohler said Walker’s hands were not tested for gunshot residue during the autopsy, a practice the office discontinued in 2016. While the test can detect gunshot residue, it cannot be used as an absolute judgment of whether a person fired a weapon, Kohler said, because the particles it detects can be easily removed.

The autopsy found evidence of medical interventions including tourniquets, gauze dressings, adhesive seals and defibrillator pads, according to Kohler. She also said Walker’s toxicology screen was negative for alcohol and drugs of abuse.

When the shooting footage was released, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said officers provided first aid after the shooting ended. That same day, Bobby DiCello, an attorney representing the Walker family, said life-saving measures after dozens of rounds were fired were a “hopeless cause.”

The final autopsy report will be given to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), officials said Friday. The BCI investigation is independent of the police department.

When the investigation is complete, the Attorney General’s Office will review the case and present it to a Summit County grand jury to determine if the officers involved in the shooting will face criminal charges, according to police.

The eight officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the BCI investigation, as well as an internal investigation by the Akron Police Office of Professional Standards and Accountability.

Demonstrators have been protesting for weeks in Akron, alongside the Walker family, demanding change. City officials canceled Fourth of July celebrations, implemented a series of curfews and called for demonstrations to be peaceful.

On Wednesday, hundreds attended Walker’s funeral service, during a citywide day of mourning for him.

During the service, the Rev. Robert DeJournett, a cousin of Walker, said the names of more than 10 Black people who were killed by police. The list ended in Jayland Walker.

“We can be conscious of His will and still demand justice for Jayland Walker and all the others,” DeJournett said.