City to meet with advocacy groups over police reform demands following Jayland Walker’s death

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(AKRON, Ohio) — Tensions between protesters and law enforcement have persisted amid weekslong demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker.

As protesters seek accountability from police in Walker’s death, local and national advocacy groups have released lists of demands for the mayor and local law enforcement.

“Without a new approach to policing and public safety broadly, policymakers keep taking us through the same cycle of violence; more militarization and surveillance, more prisons, and more Black people murdered by police,” said Sakira Cook, of the social justice organization Color Of Change. “Yet, we are not deterred. Together, alongside our members and partners, we’ll continue to work to end our violent policing system, redefine public safety, and invest in Black communities.”

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has offered to sit down and have meetings with the various advocacy groups, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

Walker was unarmed when he was fatally shot in Akron, Ohio, by police on June 27 after a traffic stop turned into a pursuit. He was running away when eight officers opened fire on him, body-camera footage released by the city showed.

Officials said they attempted to pull over Walker for a traffic violation and an equipment violation with his car. He allegedly refused to stop, which set off a chase that ended in his death.

Officials said a flash of light seen in body camera footage appeared to be the muzzle flash of a gun coming from the driver’s side of Walker’s car.

In a second body camera video, officers are heard radioing that they heard a shot being fired from Walker’s car. The footage shows the officer following Walker’s Buick off Route 8 and continuing the pursuit on side streets.

At one point, Walker slowed down and jumped out of the passenger side door before it came to a full stop. As Walker ran away from police, several officers simultaneously fired several bullets, fatally shooting him.

A gun was later recovered inside the car, but Walker was unarmed when he was shot.

The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave and have not been named.

The incident is under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“When an officer makes the most critical decision in his or her life as a police officer, it doesn’t matter where in the country this happens, when they make that most critical decision to point their firearm at another human being and pull the trigger, they’ve got to be ready to explain why they did what they did,” Police Chief Steve Mylett said in a July 3 press conference, as the department released body camera footage.

A list of demands from Color Of Change and social advocacy group The Freedom BLOC for Akron officials has already received more than 3,000 signatures.

It calls for the abolition of the use of tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets, the release of all protesters from jail with charges dropped and records expunged, as well as an order for police to stop arresting protesters.

The demands also include funding an unarmed traffic enforcement unit for routine traffic stops, as well as a unit to respond to mental health calls and anti-violence community programs.

Demonstrators also demand the city create a citizen-led commission to reallocate money from the police department to other community programs that invest in housing, public transportation, health care and more.

The Department of Justice Community Relations Service has offered to be mediators in these conversations between officials and the organizations, and “we believe this is the best path forward for our community,” a spokesperson from the mayor’s office told ABC News.

Akron officials have implemented a curfew to quell protests, saying that the nationwide outrage about Walker’s death has put the city on edge.

Two relatives of police shooting victims – Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, and Bianca Austin, an aunt of Breonna Taylor – were arrested on rioting charges while protesting the police shooting in the city.

According to local reports from WKYC, demonstrators claimed to have been tear-gassed while protesting.

The Akron Police Department did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the allegations.

Ohio officials called for protesters to pause demonstrations on July 8, after two people were killed in unrelated gun violence in other parts of Akron.

“This has been a very difficult week for Akron, almost two weeks for Akron. The heat is very very high, tensions are running high in this city,” Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said at a press briefing that night. “We’re asking for people to stand down for at least 48 hours, let the temperature come down.”

Both the family and police have called for peaceful demonstrations after officials said some protests turned violent. Some officers also claim to have received threats due to their involvement in the department.

“So long as the participants are non-violent, we are going to give them space,” said Lt. Michael Miller in a July 11 press conference.

Following that press conference, the legal team representing Walker’s family held a press conference in response.

“We don’t stand for any violence towards anyone, whether it be a police officer or a citizen but here’s the fact of the matter: the police are in control here, aren’t they?,” attorney Bobby DiCello said. “When the community is hurting, they need to let that hurt out and not take it personally.”

The city officially declared July 13 a day of mourning in Walker’s name in a new resolution to quell the tension.

In it, officials call for peaceful protesting and healing throughout the community. “The City urges that the friends and family of Jayland Walker, and the entire Akron community, be surrounded with love and peace, and that the City would begin to heal,” the city said.

ABC News’ Amanda Su contributed to this report.

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