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Akron mayor, police chief to hold daily press briefings on Jayland Walker situation

Dan Horrigan
City of Akron
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan addresses the Akron community in a pre-taped video released Friday, July 8, 2022. The mayor's office announced daily press briefings on the Jayland Walker situation will be held starting Monday, July 11.

Amid ongoing protests and calls for transparency over the death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett will begin hosting daily press conferences starting Monday, July 11.

City officials will relay information to the public and media about the ongoing situation and provide safety updates, according to a Friday press release.

The city also plans to launch an “incident website” that will provide the latest safety updates as well as any public information related to the shooting investigation. Additionally, the daily briefings will be recorded and made available on the site.

“I know that the situation in Akron is ever-evolving, and our community needs to have the most up to date information as quickly as possible,” Mayor Horrigan said in the release. “Our new dedicated site and these daily briefings will help us better commit to our promise of transparency and allow our residents to have a clearer understanding of exactly what is happening as it occurs.”

The press conferences will be held virtually via a Zoom webinar. More information, including the time of the briefings, will be sent out in the coming days, according to the release.

Walker was shot and killed by eight police officers after a car and foot chase June 27. Police said a shot was fired during the vehicle chase but Walker was unarmed when he was killed. It has not been confirmed how many shots were fired, but 60 wounds were found on Walker’s body, according to the Summit County medical examiner.

More protests are planned in Akron this weekend, and an overnight curfew remains in effect for the downtown area.

In a pre-taped video released Friday, Horrigan called for protests to be peaceful.

“I know we’ve had many, many peaceful protests over the last week, and I fully support, and it’s my duty to support, our citizens’ right to let their voices be heard. But what I cannot allow is the type of violence and lawlessness that we’ve seen at some of these late-night protests,” Horrigan said in the video.

“I can’t allow violent protests to come to my house and threaten me and my family,” he added.

Leaders of local activist organizations, such as Freedom BLOC and Serve the People, have criticized Akron Police’s responseto what they said are largely peaceful demonstrations. Police have used tear gas to break up protesters, they said, and in some cases used physical force.

“We have seen militarized SWAT vehicles, and just the aggression in how they're even presenting themselves to the community," Dee McCall, a local activist who has participated in the ongoing protests, said in a Thursday press conference. "It doesn't seem as though they're trying to protect and serve the community. It seems as though they are waging war against the community."

Activists sent a list of demands for police reform to the mayor’s office earlier this week, asking for more communication and transparency. In the video released Friday, Horrigan said he wants to engage with local groups.

“I’ve always remained willing to come to the table and have the really hard, important conversations that we all need to have,” Horrigan said. “I understand that some organizers won’t be willing or able to talk just yet. Listen, I respect that. But I want to be clear that I’ll always be ready to talk when they’re ready.”

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.

“We have to allow this independent investigation to run its course, because there can be no healing without truth. So again, I am calling for peace as we allow the BCI investigation to take place and to get the answers the Walker family deserves,” Horrigan added.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.