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Akron, Ohio, imposes curfew due to protests after police killed Jayland Walker


In Akron, Ohio, more protests are expected into the evening in response to the police shooting of Jayland Walker, despite a new curfew. Police released bodycam footage yesterday showing Walker's death during an attempted traffic stop one week ago. Walker was 25 years old, a young Black man, unarmed at the time he was shot. And we want to warn you, we will be discussing details of the violence which the video shows. Matt Richmond from Ideastream Public Media in Cleveland is covering this story and joins us now. Welcome.


CHANG: So I know the city also canceled Fourth of July celebrations. How have things been in Akron today?

RICHMOND: Well, the protests are continuing, and things are getting more tense. Last night, overnight, there was the state of emergency and the curfew issued. And tonight, that curfew in downtown Akron starts at 9. Activist organizations like a local one called the Freedom BLOC and members from Black Lives Matter's chapter in Cleveland led a march to the mayor's house today and have called for protests throughout the day.

CHANG: OK. And I know that these protests - they grew after the bodycam footage was released yesterday. Can you just give us a little more detail about what that footage shows?

RICHMOND: So what everyone saw on the video first was a short vehicle pursuit. And there's some evidence - there's sound on the video and a flash from Walker's car after police started following him - that indicates he may have fired a gunshot from the car. And Walker later got out of the car and ran. And at that point, he was unarmed. Officers first tried to taze him, and that didn't work. And then seconds later, eight officers fired at Walker dozens of times. Police, you know, later said that Walker had made a threatening movement. But since his image on the video is blurred for - in the public version, that's impossible to see. Police say that a gun with the magazine removed was later found in the vehicle he was driving. And, you know, according to Akron chief of police Stephen Mylett, he had at least 60 wounds in his body from these gunshots based on a preliminary medical examiner report.

CHANG: Wow. Can you just tell us a little more about who Jayland Walker was?

RICHMOND: He attended Akron public schools. He was on the wrestling team. He's been described as a kind person, had no criminal record and drove recently for a delivery service. Sadly, about a month before his death, his fiancee died in a car crash. And his family, through their attorney, you know, said that they don't think that that explains why he chose to flee from police that night. And they just say it was something that was totally out of character for him.

CHANG: And I know that more protests are expected tonight. I understand that they're demanding more accountability for Walker's death, right?

RICHMOND: Yeah. They want the eight officers who fired at Walker that night to be fired. They want criminal charges to be filed, as opposed to waiting for the attorney general's office to complete their investigation. And what they usually do is then present the findings to a grand jury. They want the resignation of the city's deputy mayor for public safety. And, you know, eventually, there will also be an internal investigation, but they don't want to wait for the city - they don't want the city to wait for that before firing the officers. And, you know, we're expecting protests tonight. And things have gotten more tense, and there's a chance it could turn more confrontational.

CHANG: That is Matt Richmond at Ideastream Public Media in Ohio. Thank you so much, Matt.

RICHMOND: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Matt Richmond comes to Binghamton's WSKG, a WRVO partner station in the Innovation Trail consortium, from South Sudan, where he worked as a stringer for Bloomberg, and freelanced for Radio France International, Voice of America, and German Press Agency dpa. He has worked with KQED in Los Angeles, Cape Times in Cape Town, South Africa, and served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon. Matt's masters in journalism is from the Annenberg School for Communication at USC.