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Medical examiner says Jayland Walker was shot dozens of times

Lynnette Williams holds a sign during a gathering at Second Baptist Church on July 2, in Akron, Ohio, calling for justice for Jayland Walker.
Phil Masturzo
/
Akron Beacon Journal via AP
Lynnette Williams holds a sign during a gathering at Second Baptist Church on July 2, in Akron, Ohio, calling for justice for Jayland Walker.

AKRON, Ohio — Jayland Walker, the 25-year-old Black man who died last month at the hands of police in Akron, Ohio, was shot dozens of times, with 26 bullets recovered from his body, according to a preliminary autopsy report released Friday.

Dr. Lisa Kohler, the Summit County medical examiner, said it was impossible for her office to say which bullet killed Walker or the number of shots that were fired.

Walker "had several very devastating injuries that would cause death," including injuries to his heart, lungs and arteries, Kohler said. She tallied 41 entry wounds and five wounds from bullets that grazed Walker.

Preliminary findings released earlier indicated Walker's body had more than 60 wounds. Greta Johnson, Summit County communications director, said Friday it was "very possible" that one bullet could cause several different entrance wounds.

Walker had five wounds in his back, but it's impossible to say whether those came as he ran away or turned as he was being shot, Kohler said.

The medical examiner gave a summary of the report into Walker's death at a news conference. The report was finalized Thursday.

The June 27 pursuit began when officers tried to pull him over for equipment violations. Authorities say Walker fired a gunshot from his car 40 seconds into the chase.

Kohler said that no illegal drugs or alcohol were detected in Walker.

The medical examiner's findings confirm that Walker, unarmed and with no drugs or alcohol in his system, "came to a brutal, senseless death," said Ken Abbarno, a lawyer representing Walker's family.

Walker was remembered at his funeral Wednesday as a shy, kind, thoughtful man with a quiet sense of humor. Another lawyer for his family previously said Walker had been grieving the recent death of his fiancée but that his family had no indication of concern beyond that.

A message seeking comment on the autopsy findings was sent Friday to a spokesperson for the police department.

The NAACP is asking for a federal civil rights investigation into Walker's death

The update comes a day after the NAACP made a direct plea to Attorney General Merrick Garland for the Justice Department to open a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting death.

Police said Walker fled an attempted traffic stop for minor equipment violations and fired a shot from his car during the vehicle chase, but he wasn't armed when officers shot him.

Police body camera footage shows Walker wearing a ski mask, jumping out the front passenger door of his still-moving car and then running into a parking lot where police opened fire. That blurry footage does not clearly show what authorities say was a threatening gesture made by Walker before he was shot.

An unloaded handgun, an ammunition clip and what appeared to be a wedding band were found on the front driver's seat of Walker's car, authorities said.

The officers involved are on paid leave while the state investigates the shooting. Seven of those officers are white, and one is Black. None of them has a record of discipline, substantiated complaints or fatal shootings, according to the police department.

The local police union has said the officers thought there was an immediate threat of serious harm, and that it believes their actions and the number of shots will be found justified in line with their training and protocols.

Police in neighboring New Franklin Township had tried to stop and then chased a car matching Walker's for the same minor equipment violations less than 24 hours before the Akron chase. A supervisor there called off the pursuit when the car crossed the township's border with Akron.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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