A Black man killed by police in a hail of bullets in the United States late last month was shot 46 times, the local medical examiner has said after a preliminary autopsy, as calls for accountability for the killing of Jayland Walker mount.
In a news conference on Friday morning, Dr Lisa Kohler, the Summit County, Ohio medical examiner, said Walker died as a result of blood loss caused by his internal injuries. She counted 41 entry wounds and five wounds from bullets that grazed him.
“We are not able to say which bullet killed him. He had several very devastating injuries,” Kohler told reporters.
Walker’s killing in Akron, Ohio, a city of approximately 200,000 residents in the US Midwest, set off protests and renewed demands for an end to deadly police violence against Black people across the country.
The 25-year-old was killed on June 27 after Akron police officers tried to pull him over for a minor traffic violation and he fled.
After a chase of several minutes, Walker jumped out of the car and ran from the officers, a video released by police showed. Police said it appears he was turning toward officers, who at the time believed he was armed. A gun was later recovered from his car, they said.
Ken Abbarno, a lawyer representing Walker’s family, said the medical examiner’s findings confirm the fact that Walker, who was unarmed, “came to a brutal, senseless death”.
Friday’s news conference came a day after the NAACP, a prominent US civil rights group, made a direct plea to Attorney General Merrick Garland for the US Justice Department to open a federal civil rights investigation into the killing.
“This wasn’t self-defense, it wasn’t an accident in the heat of the moment, it was murder. Point blank,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement on July 1.
“This doesn’t happen to white people in America. Why do police continuously target us like domestic terrorists? We are just trying to live our lives, and we are tired of being hunted like prey.”
It was previously reported that Walker had more than 60 wounds to his body, but Kohler on Friday said that some of those wounds were not from gunfire.
She said Walker sustained five gunshot wounds to the back of his body but it was not possible to determine whether they hit him while he was running away, or if his body turned as a result of the gunfire.
The officers involved are on paid leave while the state investigates the shooting.
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.
US President Joe Biden said earlier this month that federal authorities were “closely monitoring” the case. “If the evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take the appropriate action,” Biden said.
Hundreds of mourners attended Walker’s funeral on Wednesday in Akron, US media reported. The city council also declared July 13 to be “a city-wide day of mourning for Jayland Walker”.
“We must not normalise this,” Bishop Timothy Clarke, pastor of the First Church of God in Columbus, said during the funeral service, as reported by CNN.
“We cannot make the deaths of our sons and daughters at such an early age the normal thing … We must not try to act as if this is all right. This is not all right. There’s nothing right about this. We should not be here. And Jayland should not be in that box,” Clarke told the mourners.
They shot him 60 times. They shot him 60 times. They shot him 60 times. They shot him 60 times. They shot him 60 times. He was murdered by Akron police. Say his name. #JaylandWalker
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) July 1, 2022