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Ohioans outraged by the shooting of a Black man, demand answers from officials

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

In Akron, Ohio, there were more protests last night over the death of Jayland Walker. Walker was a Black man who was killed when officers fired their weapons at him dozens of times. While the police investigation continues, community members are demanding answers and accountability. Anna Huntsman with Ideastream Public Media reports.

ANNA HUNTSMAN, BYLINE: Feelings of disgust and determination are prevalent here in Akron more than a week after the shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, who was killed after a car and foot chase. Police say they pursued Walker after he didn't pull over for a traffic violation. When he eventually pulled over and fled on foot, officers say he made a motion toward his waistband before at least eight of them opened fire. Police also say Walker fired a gun during the car chase but note that he was unarmed when he was killed. Protests over his death prompted Akron's mayor, Dan Horrigan, to order an overnight curfew, which is expected to be lifted today. But Reverend Ray Greene Jr. says instead of protesting, some residents are now taking a different tack - demanding answers directly from public officials.

RAY GREENE JR: We're ready to put pressure on the right people. Instead of just marching down the street, yelling and screaming, we're coming to see individuals that's in charge with this happening. We need answers from the mayor, the public safety director, the prosecutor, city council. We need answers.

HUNTSMAN: Greene heads Freedom BLOC, a local civic engagement group. He says his group has delivered a list of demands to the mayor's office, which include firing and then prosecuting the eight officers who shot Walker an astounding 60 times. The officers are currently on paid administrative leave, which resident Edmikia Minter also takes issue with.

EDMIKIA MINTER: I don't believe that they should be funded while they're on their leave because that's ridiculous. That is ridiculous. That boy was murdered, and there's no way around him being murdered like that. You can see that he was unarmed, and they did not care. So I don't feel like they should be getting paid with our tax dollars and stuff.

HUNTSMAN: Reverend Greene says he also wants the city to reform the department's protocols for high-speed chases and traffic violations.

GREENE: Why are we high-speed chasing? This is 2022, where you got cameras, you know, on the streetlights, to where you see everywhere he's going. Just go back and get the camera footage and give him a ticket at his house. Send it through the mail. Like, so we want to end high-speed chases. We want to end the practice of pulling people over for traffic violations.

HUNTSMAN: Akron resident Ali Coker says that's also been heavy on his mind.

ALI COKER: He was the same age as me, you know? So I feel hurt in the sense that it could have been me, you know? I have a taillight out in my car right now, and there's no telling how that stop would've went for me.

HUNTSMAN: Residents here are also asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Akron police, much like it did in nearby Cleveland after a pattern of excessive force in the police department there. Edmikia Minter hopes that police and community members can work together on changing tactics and outcomes.

MINTER: We know all officers are not bad officers. We know that. But it's hard to trust them when we got stuff like this happening. Help us help y'all. How about that?

HUNTSMAN: While Akron officials declined to comment on the demands, Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the state attorney general's office are currently doing their own investigations of the shooting.

For NPR News, I'm Anna Huntsman in Akron. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anna Huntsman