US officials urge calm after releasing video of police killing black man

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Authorities in the US state of Ohio appealed for calm Sunday (July 3) after releasing body camera footage that showed police fatally shooting a black man with several dozen rounds.

Mr Jayland Walker, 25, was shot and killed last Monday after officers tried to stop his car over a traffic violation, the police department in the city of Akron said.

After initially providing few details of the shooting, Akron authorities released two videos: One that was a compilation of body-camera footage, body-cam still frames and voiceover, and another of the complete body-cam footage of the entire chase and shooting.

The voiceover explained that Mr Walker did not stop, and drove off. Police engaged in a car chase and said a shot had been fired from Mr Walker’s car.

After being chased for several minutes, Mr Walker got out of his car while it was still moving and fled on foot. Officers tried to subdue him with their tasers, but he kept running.

Several officers finally chased Mr Walker to a parking lot. The body-cam footage is too blurry to see clearly what happens, but an initial police statement released after the shooting says he behaved in a way that caused officers to perceive he posed a “deadly threat”.

All of the officers at the scene opened fire on Walker, shooting multiple times in rapid succession.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident was the latest death of an African-American citizen at the hands of police, events that have sparked mass protests over racism and police brutality.

Angry activists rallied in Akron on Friday, with another protest planned for Sunday afternoon.

“Many will wish to air their grievances in public, and I fully support our residents’ right to peacefully assemble,” Akron mayor Dan Horrigan told a press conference, saying he was “heartbroken” over the events.

“But I hope the community can agree that violence and destruction are not the answer.” He also said an independent investigation was being conducted.

Police chief Steve Mylett said he didn’t know the exact number of bullets fired at Walker, but the medical examiner’s report “indicates over 60 wounds to Mr. Walker’s body”.

He also said that the eight officers involved in Walker’s death have been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

Fearing potential unrest, authorities in the city of 190,000 people moved snowplows and other heavy equipment near the police department to serve as a barrier, according to local media.

Authorities also cancelled a festival planned for the July 4th weekend.

Basketball star LeBron James, an Akron native, said in a tweet Sunday he was praying for his city.

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