Akron Council Resists Prejudgement in Walker Shooting; Ohio House Democrats Still Blame Police

Akron, Ohio’s Democrat-controlled city council issued a statement this week lamenting the death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker while resisting prejudgement of the police officers who shot him.

Some Ohio Democrats, like their party’s State House caucus, continue to react differently, deciding the shooting lacked justification even before an external investigation concludes. 

Walker fled police attempting to pull him over for traffic violations at 12:30 a.m. on Monday, June 27. A vehicular chase southward on Route 8 ensued during which video evidence suggests that the suspect fired his handgun. 

After Walker exited the route via the Archwood Avenue ramp and stopped on Wilbeth Road, he ran out of his car wearing a ski mask. Police tried and failed to tase him during the foot pursuit. The suspect stopped and turned around at which point eight officers fired their guns at him a total of more than 60 times, killing him.

The Akron Police Department noted that personnel rushed to Walker after he fell to attempt to administer life-sustaining aid before confirming he was deceased. Officers later found a gun and a loaded magazine in the driver’s seat of his automobile. 

At a press conference on Sunday, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (D) urged observers to remain patient in light of the investigation that the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the state attorney general’s office now must conduct. City Council, entirely composed of Democrats, echoed the mayor’s impartiality while expressing sorrow at Walker’s demise.

“Our heartfelt sympathy and sincere condolences are extended to Jayland’s mother, Ms. Pamela Walker, sister Jada, extended family members, and friends,” Council President Margo Sommerville (D-Ward 3) said in the legislative board’s statement. “We are so sorry for your loss and the unimaginable pain you are experiencing at this time. Our thoughts are also with the officers involved and their families as they journey through the misfortune of being the focus of the investigation surrounding this devastating incident.”

Yet some high-profile Buckeye State Democrats aren’t treating these events with the sensitivity that city officials have encouraged. On Thursday, the Ohio House Democratic Caucus retweeted a statement the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus issued last week before police camera footage was released forthrightly blaming the officers. 

While the Black Caucus observed that the suspect “exited his vehicle unarmed,” they mentioned neither the firearm he possessed during the highway chase nor the shot he evidently discharged.

“Why is it that a traffic violation can result in capital punishment?” State Representative Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) asked. Her Senate colleague Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) likewise preemptively dismissed any possible culpability on Walker’s part, saying he “question[s] how a traffic violation can lead to the death of a community member.” 

Reacting to violent protests that resulted in serious damage to Main Street businesses earlier this week, Horrigan enjoined a curfew on Monday, July 4, in the city’s downtown area. While the mayor lifted that emergency declaration two days later, he reimposed it on Thursday. It applies between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and affects those encircled by Route 59, Interstate 76 and Route 8.

Anti-police demonstrations transpired on Wednesday resulting in the arrest of Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, who Kenosha, Wisconsin police shot in response to the 29-year-old’s resisting arrest in 2020. Bianca Austin, the aunt of Breonna Taylor, was also arrested Wednesday. Taylor died from police gunfire after a controversial “no-knock raid” on her Louisville, Kentucky home two years ago.

Akron police have cited Blake and Austin’s alleged noncompliance with police as to where they could safely protest as the reason for their apprehension. Seven demonstrators got arrested in total.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Image “Akron City Council” by Akron City Council.


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