Protests erupt in Akron, Ohio after police shooting of an unarmed Black man

Protesters demanded justice last night in Akron, Ohio, despite a citywide curfew, and dozens were arrested. It came one week after the fatal police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an unarmed Black man who sustained more than 60 wounds. Bobby DiCello, a member of the legal team representing Walker’s family, joins Stephanie Sy to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Protests erupted last night in Akron, Ohio, despite a citywide curfew. Dozens were arrested.

    This came one week after the fatal police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an unarmed Black man. Hundreds of protesters demanded justice after the release of body camera video showed officers in pursuit followed by a hail of bullets. Walker sustained more than 60 wounds.

    Stephanie Sy has details.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Judy, the family of Jayland Walker is calling for peace amid the protests, but they also want answers and accountability from the police.

    To tell us more about what justice would look like for the family is Bobby DiCello, a member of the legal team representing Jayland Walker's family. We have also asked for an interview with the mayor and police chief.

    Bobby DiCello, thank you for joining the "NewsHour."

    The overall narrative from the police chief in Akron is that police believe Jayland Walker fired a gun when he was in his vehicle and that officers feared he would fire again. They gunned him down. We have seen the disturbing videos. We now know he was unarmed when police opened fire.

    My first question is, have you seen or heard evidence to the contrary?

    Bobby Dicello, Attorney Family of Jayland Walker: Have I seen evidence to the contrary? Yes, in that the police account right now is something that is very, very concerning to us.

    There is evidence that the gun was not found in the front seat, according to the preliminary autopsy report that my team reviewed. There was evidence that gun was found in the backseat. There are some concerning questions about the nature and quality of the video that is being used to substantiate some kind of flash and whether or not the door was open.

    I would challenge anyone to crack open their door while going 60 miles an hour and try to point it at a police officer without sticking your hand out the window or firing it through the — or out the side of the door. So we have some serious questions about some of these allegations. And we're going to get to the bottom of it.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Bobby, what can you say about how the Akron Police Department has handled this case so far?

    And I want to go back to the chase itself, because this all started as an alleged traffic violation or some sort of vehicle violation. There's been some question about why this even ended up as a chase.

  • Bobby Dicello:

    There should be a huge question as to why this ended up as a chase. That's one of the most outrageous facts of this case, is that there was a chase. It's outrageous that they chased this man. And it's outrageous that they gunned him down with more than 90 bullets and more than 60 striking his body.

    Look, there was a guy yesterday that opened fire on people in a park. And he was approached — if you saw the video, he was approached with please and thank-yous and let's do this. And he was put on the ground. My client was running away from the police when he was shot at both from behind and from the side, and from the front.

    It is a totally different treatment for Black Americans in this country.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Well, I want to talk about that.

    And, of course, you're referring to the Highland Park shooter. And I want to ask you about racial bias, because, statistically, Black people are about three-and-a-half times more likely than whites to be killed by police when they are not attacking and when they are unarmed, which was the case again when Jayland Walker was actually killed.

    There are questions about whether police knew he was unarmed when they killed him. But do you think, ultimately, Bobby, this is, sadly, another data point proving racial bias of some kind?

  • Bobby Dicello:

    I hope it's not just another data point proving racial bias.

    I hope this case gives us the pause to consider the value of every American life. And I hope it causes law enforcement at the city of Akron to do two things immediately, get dashcams. Do you know that not one car has a dashcam on it in that city as we speak right now? That's unbelievable in 2022.

    And the second thing they have to do is, they have to revise their chase and their firearms policies. There were eight officers that shot my client as he was running away. And we have to address both of those things immediately.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Jayland was only 25. And I read that he worked at DoorDash. And up until this incident, he had no criminal record.

    I also read that he'd recently lost his fiancee in a horrible car accident. Why is it important for us to remember his humanity as we look at this case? And what else can you tell us about who he was?

  • Bobby Dicello:

    What a beautiful question.

    His humanity is what we are. We are all a collective American family. There is no need to divide ourselves anymore. And there's no need to take this case into the spotlight as an example of another Black life lost, unless we ignore that another Black life was lost.

    So we have to confront the issues that this case highlights. Look, the way men are treated who are African American is documented to be different, and we have to deal with that from a law enforcement perspective.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for Jayland Walker's family, thank you so much for joining the "NewsHour."

  • Bobby Dicello:

    Thank you for having me.

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