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Congressional Black Caucus: Jayland Walker should be alive today

Protesters march along South High Street on Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Akron, Ohio, calling for justice for Jayland Walker after he was fatally shot by Akron Police earlier in the week, following a vehicle and foot pursuit. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal via AP)

The Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday called for more action on police reform following the death of Jayland Walker, a Black man who was shot and killed by police in Akron, Ohio.

The Akron Police Department on Saturday released bodycam footage of police firing a barrage of bullets at Walker as they pursued him over an unspecified traffic violation late last month. 

“From every account, he was a family man loved by many,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said in a statement. “He should still be alive today. The body camera footage is gut-wrenching and leaves us with far more questions than answers.”

After pursuing Walker in police vehicles, the city’s police department said officers exited their cars and attempted to take Walker into custody by using stun guns. The officers ultimately began firing as he continued to evade arrest, believing he was changing to a firing position as they shot him, police said.

Authorities said Walker was unarmed when he was shot but he likely fired a weapon during the earlier vehicular chase. Police recovered a handgun, loaded magazine and a gold ring from the vehicle.

Beatty on Wednesday called for a “thorough and transparent” investigation with regular public updates.

“Jayland’s family, the Akron community and all of us deserve to know what happened and what the department will change to ensure routine traffic stops do not lead to more unnecessary deaths,” she said. 

The police killing of the 25-year-old has sparked protests in the city alleging police brutality. 

Local authorities have pleaded for peace as an investigation continues, but Akron’s mayor declared a state of emergency and implemented a curfew after he said the demonstrations caused “significant” property damage. The mayor lifted the curfew earlier on Wednesday.

Beatty commended recent action on police reform but said the incident makes clear there “is more work to do.”

President Biden signed an executive order on police reform in May that established a nationwide database of officers fired for misconduct, required federal agencies to update their use-of-force policies and restricted the transfer and purchase of military equipment by local police departments.

The order came two years after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement, which sparked protests in cities across the country and reignited advocates’ calls for police reform. 

“Far too many Black people in America are killed at the hands of police during alleged traffic violations, and we cannot remain silent,” Beatty said. “This is not an acceptable outcome, and we can no longer afford to be merely outraged and heartbroken.”

Tags Akron Congressional Black Caucus Jayland Walker Jayland Walker Joyce Beatty Joyce Beatty Police shooting police use of force
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