LeBron James Prays for 'My City' Akron as Protests Erupt Over Police Shooting of Jayland Walker

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan shared "heartbreaking" body-cam footage of the police shooting Jayland Walker during a press conference on Sunday

July 2, 2022; Akron, OH, USA; Protesters gather in front of the Stubbs Justice Center on Saturday, July 2, 2022 in Akron, Ohio, calling for justice for Jayland Walker after he was fatally shot by Akron Police on Monday. Mandatory Credit: Phil Masturzo-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA ; LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 12: LeBron James attends the premiere of Warner Bros "Space Jam: A New Legacy" at Regal LA Live on July 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/FilmMagic)
LeBron James and a Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Phil Masturzo-USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA ; Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

Akron, Ohio is bracing for more protests after last week's police killing of 25-year-old unarmed Black man Jayland Walker, and LeBron James is thinking of his hometown.

The demonstrations come as Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett released body-cam footage Sunday from the June 27 shooting, after eight officers from the Akron Police Department were placed on administrational leave.

"I won't mince words, the video you are about to watch is heartbreaking," Mayor Horrigan said Sunday in a press conference, prefacing the body-cam footage.

APD previously detailed the incident that took place at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Monday after officers attempted to stop a vehicle operated by Walker for an unspecified traffic violation. According to a release, a chase ensued and officers reported that a firearm was discharged from the suspect's vehicle.

The chase continued for several minutes until Walker slowed down and exited the moving vehicle, fleeing on foot into a nearby parking lot. Officers said that Walker's actions caused them to perceive that he "posed a deadly threat to them" before they opened fire. Walker was pronounced dead on the scene.

Jayland Walker is pictured in an undated family photo. Walker Family.
Jayland Walker. Courtesy: Walker Family

The city has since handed the case over to the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation after they assisted the APD's Major Crimes Unit in handling the initial investigation.

Chief Mylett said Sunday that APD does "not know the exact number of rounds that were fired," although he expects "that number to be high," pending investigation. "But right now we just don't know," he added.

Bobby DiCello, lawyer for Walker's family, told The New York Times that eight officers fired more than 90 times after attempting to subdue him with stun guns. His team also reviewed an initial autopsy on Friday, noting that Walker was struck at least 60 times.

"I've been a trial lawyer for 22 years and I've never seen anything remotely close to what that video is going to show," DiCello told The Times.

DiCello said that after reviewing the footage, he found no evidence that Walker, who had no criminal record, did anything to the officers that would "put them in fear" and require them to shoot. He added that the parking lot Walker ran to was large and vacant with no place to hide. Although a gun was found in the car, Walker was not carrying it at the time he was shot.

As for reports that Walker shot at police, the back windshield was not broken and there was no mention of him pointing the gun outside his window. APD noted on the footage what appears to be a muzzle flash and what sounded like a gunshot near the beginning of the pursuit, adding that they found a shell casing at that spot consistent with the type of gun in Walker's car.

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LeBron James, who was born and raised in Akron, has since shared his support for the city on Twitter. The Los Angeles Lakers player, 37, wrote: "I 🙏🏾 for my city today!"

As protests unfolded across the city, including a rally immediately following Sunday's conference, Horrigan urged protesters to remain peaceful. "You're going to have to do one of the most difficult things I can ever ask anyone to do and that is to please be patient and let the attorney general do their work," he said.

Horrigan previously canceled this weekend's Independence Day celebrations, explaining that it's "not the time for a city-led celebration" in a statement.

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