On what would be Jayland Walker’s birthday, his mother remembers happier times. lawyers call for federal investigation
AKRON, Ohio — A week after Jayland Walker’s funeral, his family and friends gathered Wednesday to celebrate what would have been his 26th birthday and call for a federal investigation into his shooting.
Family members held signs reading ‘Happy Heavenly Birthday’ and ‘Jayland in our hearts’.
Akron police killed Walker on June 27 after a pursuit. Officers fired 46 bullets into his body, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office. The shooting has led to weeks of protests and calls for a thorough and transparent investigation.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation, although attorneys for Walker’s family have said they want the US Department of Justice to review his death.
Walker’s mother, Pamela, couldn’t hold back tears during the brief celebration at St. Ashworth Temple’s Church of God in Christ. She recalled one of her son’s happiest birthday moments when he was a child. She said her favorite WWE wrestler was Stone Cold Steve Austin.
For one of her parties, she hired an actor to play the grappler. She remembers the reactions of her son and his friends when the actor walked out with deafening boombox music.
“They froze in their tracks,” Pamela Walker said with tears in her eyes. “Their eyes were wide and their mouths dropped to the ground. They couldn’t say anything for a few minutes, then they started interacting with him. It was just really funny.
Then she got serious. She said her only son entered and left the world by tragedy.
“He had a hard time coming into the world because he was a twin who survived a miscarriage,” said Pamela Walker. “Unfortunately, he had to leave this world the same way.”
Reverend Stacey Jenkins, senior pastor of the House of Prayer for All People church in Akron, urged the community to keep the momentum going for the Walker family. Since Walker’s memorial service last week, peaceful protests have ceased.
“I’m here to remind you that we won’t forget it,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he was pleased to hear of the discussion from a civilian review board, a panel that will hear complaints from residents about police officers.
Akron NAACP President Judi Hill also attended the celebration. The organization has asked US Attorney General Merrick Garland to open a federal investigation and hold accountable the eight officers who shot Walker.
The organization also called on the city and the police department to make important policy changes, including an end to prosecutions for minor traffic violations.
Walker family attorney Robert DiCello also pushed for the Justice Department to replace state agents in the investigation.
DiCello accused Clay Cozart, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge 7, of interfering with state investigators. He said Cozart made himself a witness in Walker’s investigation.
DiCello questioned the integrity of the investigation, based on Cozart’s relationships with investigators.
“Who’s talking to you,” DiCello asked. “How did you know the witnesses’ schedule and when they would give information?” How did you know what they were saying? How did you get the information you gave to the local media regarding this horrific shooting? »
The lawyer accused the union president “of trying to defend the officers, instead of focusing on the loss of Jayland’s life by creating and inserting new facts that have never been disclosed to the public.”
Cozart fired back, telling cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that he did not give any information to state agents or interfere with the investigation. He said DiCello continues to post incorrect information.
“He’s just grandstanding and trying to make noise,” Cozart said. “He was the one who gave false information on Good Morning America that the gun was found in the back seat and then backtracked on his statement.”
On the night of the shooting, Cozart said, officers initially spotted Walker’s car near Tallmadge Avenue and Howard Street, but let it go because it was a simple equipment failure. He said officers later noticed the car in the same area, raising suspicion.
On Tuesday, Cozart told cleveland.com that the investigation is out of the city’s hands, as it has been turned over to state investigators and the attorney general’s office.
Steve Irwin, a spokesman for the Bureau of Criminal Identification, released a statement denying any form of investigative tampering.
“BCI will remain true to its commitment to independent investigations into officer-involved shootings, and this case is no different,” Irwin said. “No updates have been or will be provided to the FOP President or any other party by BCI while the investigation is ongoing.
“The officers involved in the incident have a constitutional right to counsel as everyone else would in this situation. The family and the community deserve a thorough and independent investigation, and that’s what they will get.
The officers involved in the shooting of Jayland Walker have not been charged with a crime and it has not been proven that they violated policy or procedures. Their names have still not been released.
Steve Mylett, the city’s police chief, said threats have been made against officers, though the department has yet to release details of those incidents.