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After a Black man is killed by police, a city cancels its July Fourth celebration

Jayland Walker, 25, was fatally shot by police in Akron, Ohio, earlier this week. (Screenshot via YouTube//Screenshot via YouTube/WKYC)
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Days after a Black man was killed by police officers who reportedly fired almost 100 rounds during a chase that started as a traffic stop, officials in Akron, Ohio, announced that the Fourth of July celebration was canceled in response to a fatal shooting that has rocked the city this week.

Police tried to pull over Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old DoorDash driver, for a traffic infraction early Monday, authorities said. The Akron Police Department said that during the pursuit, Walker fired a gun from outside the vehicle — a claim that Walker’s family has refuted. As he kept driving away from police, Walker jumped out of his vehicle and was chased by officers on foot, according to authorities. It’s unclear why Walker fled police, as he had no criminal record, Bobby DiCello, one of the family’s attorneys, told The Washington Post.

“Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” police said in a news release. “In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.”

Walker was pronounced dead at the parking lot where he was shot.

Autopsy records show that eight officers fired more than 90 rounds at Walker, with more than 60 striking his body, DiCello told The Post. The account was corroborated by WKYC, the first to report on the number of gunshots fired.

“There are wounds on all sides and parts of his body,” DiCello said.

Eight officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, according to Akron police. Details surrounding the number of shots fired by police have not been released by authorities. The officers have not yet been publicly identified.

A weapon was recovered from inside Walker’s car, according to police. DiCello said there is no evidence showing that the firearm was in the car or that the firearm was discharged at an officer.

The killing has sparked protests and calls for accountability from Walker’s family and residents angry over the third fatal police shooting in the northeast Ohio city since late December. Akron police announced Friday that body-camera footage of the shooting would be released on Sunday afternoon.

The blowback led Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan (D), who called the killing “a dark day for our city,” to announce that the city’s Fourth of July celebration was canceled. The Rib, White, & Blue Festival was scheduled to begin Friday in downtown Akron and conclude Monday on Independence Day. The part of downtown where the festival would have taken place will have no activities or entertainment over the holiday weekend, according to the city.

“I completely understand that some residents and guests will be disappointed by the decision to cancel the festival this holiday weekend. Independence Day is meant to be a celebration and a time of gathering with friends and family,” Horrigan said in a news release on Thursday. “Unfortunately, I feel strongly that this is not the time for a city-led celebration.”

The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to The Post that Walker’s death has been classified as a homicide. Walker died of multiple gunshot wounds to the face, abdomen and the upper part of his legs, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Denice DiNapoli, a spokesperson for the medical examiner, told The Post that the homicide classification “refers to the medical term indicating death at the hands of another and is not a legal conclusion.”

“As it is with every investigation, the goal of the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office is to be able to provide an accurate assessment of the injuries sustained by Mr. Walker,” DiNapoli said.

The autopsy report is expected to be released next week.

More than 1,040 people have been shot and killed by police in the last year, according to a data tracked by The Post. Although half of those people were White, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of Whites. Hispanics are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.

1,042 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year

Before working for DoorDash, Walker had worked for Amazon, DiCello said at a Thursday news conference. The Akron native’s high school sweetheart died in a car crash last month, DiCello told The Post.

Authorities said the incident began at around 12:30 a.m. Monday. When Walker got out of the moving car during a pursuit that lasted several minutes, he ended up in the parking lot for Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology, police said.

After Walker was shot, police said, officers “immediately summonsed for EMS to as they began administering first aid until the arrival of paramedics.”

Once the state’s investigation is complete, the case will be handed over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for further review before being presented to the Summit County grand jury for evaluation, police said.

Protesters gathered outside the Akron Police Department’s office on Thursday and blocked traffic to demand “Justice for Jayland.” DiCello told The Post that the family has urged protesters to be peaceful over the holiday weekend, including when the body-cam footage is released Sunday.

“We are very concerned that this video is going to cause Akron to burn, and we don’t want that. Nobody wants that,” the attorney said. “It’s all about peace, dignity and justice for Jayland.”

His family has said Walker was a sweet man who never caused trouble. Relatives expressed their grief in news conferences and interviews with local media, saying they are “angry” and “sick” over a killing they say didn’t have to happen.

His mother, Pamela Walker, was left with one question to WKYC: “Why?”

“Why did this happen in such a manner, such a terrible, terrible way?” she asked.

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