Medical examiner: Jayland Walker was shot dozens of times
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Jayland Walker, the 25-year-old Black man who died last month at the hands of police in Akron, Ohio, was shot dozens of times, with 26 bullets recovered from his body, according to a preliminary autopsy report released Friday.
Dr. Lisa Kohler, the Summit County medical examiner, said it was impossible for her office to say which bullet killed Walker or the number of shots that were fired.
Walker “had several very devastating injuries that would cause death,” including injuries to his heart, lungs and arteries, Kohler said. She tallied 41 entry wounds and five wounds from bullets that grazed Walker.
Preliminary findings released earlier indicated Walker’s body had more than 60 wounds. Greta Johnson, Summit County communications director, said Friday it was “very possible” that one bullet could cause multiple entrance wounds, such as by passing through Walker’s arm and into his torso.
Walker had five wounds in his back, but it’s impossible to say whether those came as he ran away or turned as he was being shot, Kohler said.
The medical examiner gave a summary of the report on Walker’s death at a news conference. The report was finalized Thursday.
The June 27 pursuit began when officers tried to pull him over for equipment violations. Authorities say Walker fired a gunshot from his car 40 seconds into the chase.
Kohler said no illegal drugs or alcohol were detected in Walker’s body.
Ken Abbarno, a lawyer representing Walker’s family, said the medical examiner’s findings confirm that Walker — unarmed — “came to a brutal, senseless death.”
Walker was remembered as a shy, kind, thoughtful man with a quiet sense of humor at his funeral Wednesday.
He had been grieving his fiancée’s recent death but his family had no indication of concern beyond that, another lawyer for his family previously said.
A message seeking comment on the autopsy findings was sent Friday to a police department spokesperson.
The update comes a day after the NAACP made a direct plea to Attorney General Merrick Garland to have the Justice Department open a federal civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting.
Akron has seen daily protests since July 3, when city officials released body camera footage from the eight officers involved. Demonstrators marched peacefully through the city on the day the footage was made public, but late that night, police in full riot gear fired a dozen tear gas canisters to disperse a handful of protesters outside the justice center.
Downtown Akron has since been under a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Police said Walker fled an attempted traffic stop for minor equipment violations and fired a shot from his car during the vehicle chase, but he wasn’t armed when officers shot him.
Police body camera footage shows Walker wearing a ski mask, jumping out the front passenger door of his still-moving car and then running into a parking lot where police opened fire. That blurry footage does not clearly show what authorities say was a threatening gesture made by Walker before he was shot.
Police chased him for about 10 seconds before officers fire from multiple directions, in a burst of shots that lasts 6 or 7 seconds.
An unloaded handgun, an ammunition clip and what appeared to be a wedding band were found on the front driver’s seat of Walker’s car, authorities said.
The officers involved are on paid leave while the state investigates the shooting. Seven of those officers are white, and one is Black. None of them has a record of discipline, substantiated complaints or fatal shootings, according to the police department.
The local police union has said the officers thought there was an immediate threat of serious harm, and that it believes their actions and the number of shots will be found justified in line with their training and protocols.
Police in neighboring New Franklin Township had tried to stop and then chased a car matching Walker’s for the same minor equipment violations less than 24 hours before the Akron chase. A supervisor there called off the pursuit when the car crossed the township’s border with Akron.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report.