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Mourners celebrate Jayland Walker killed brutally by Ohio police

Jayland Walker

Jayland Walker

Hundreds of people gathered at a theatre in Akron, Ohio, on Wednesday to commemorate the life of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man killed 27 June in a hail of police gunfire.

Walker, who was born 20 July 1996 was remembered by family and friends as a shy, kind, thoughtful man with a quiet sense of humour.

There were also calls from those who spoke at the funeral about the need for justice for Walker and other Black men and women killed by police.

Mourners in a procession for Jayland Walker on Wednesday in Akron Ohio
Mourners in a procession for Jayland Walker on Wednesday in Akron Ohio

“We thank you God that Jayland’s life has touched so many people around the world,” said Pastor Robert DeJournett of Akron’s St. Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ “I’m believing that this is gonna be the last time that we have to do this. But God, we’re going to continue to push and push and push until a change is gonna come.”

Mourners, some wearing “Black Lives Matter” and “Zero Threat, Zero Violence, Justice for Jayland” T-shirts passed by Walker’s casket before the funeral.

“When I think about Jayland, I think about someone who had the biggest heart,” said Robin Elerick, a cousin of Walker’s who spoke at the service. “He was so sweet and so authentically genuine, and that’s what I’ll always remember about him.”

Walker’s best friend, through tears, recalled how they were like brothers and listened to music together including one of Walker’s favourite rappers, Jadakiss.

“I don’t want anybody to try to make it seem like my best friend was a bad dude,” said Dupri Whatley. “Because he was not. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at now.”

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Bishop Timothy Clarke, of the First Church of God in Columbus, preached about how Walker’s death, and the deaths of other men and women, cannot be normalised.

“We must not try to act as if this is all right,” Clarke said. “This is not all right. There’s nothing right about this. We should not be here, and Jayland should not be in that box.”

An attorney for Walker’s family, Bobby DiCello, said during a news conference following the funeral that the United Nations Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality Law Enforcement has committed to examine Walker’s death.

DiCello said Akron and its police department need to make policy changes such as installing dashboard cameras in police cruisers. He insisted that Akron city officials need to publicly apologize to Walker’s family.

“We’re going to hold them accountable for every single bullet they fired in this case,” DiCello said,

Walker was killed June 27 at the end of a vehicle and foot chase that followed an attempted traffic stop. He wasn’t armed when he was shot, but authorities said Walker had fired a shot from his car 40 seconds into the vehicle chase. Police body camera footage released by the city on July 3 shows Walker wearing a ski mask, jumping out the front passenger door of his still-moving car and then running into a parking lot.

That blurry footage does not clearly show what authorities say was a threatening gesture before he was shot by eight officers, seven of whom are white and one who is Black.

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