Matt Bush, FISM News
A week before the fourth of July, Jayland Walker was stopped by the police for “unspecified traffic and equipment violations.” Minutes later, the 25-year-old was shot 46 times by police and died at the scene.
After the 13 bodycam videos were released, news organizations began releasing stories about another black man being shot and killed by police. In the past two days, autopsy results were released stating that Walker was shot 46 times by police after a routine stop.
The headlines of the stories released by some of the major news outlets are written not for news, but to get people to click and to tell a story. The ABC News headline was, “Jayland Walker was unarmed when 8 Ohio officers opened fire on him.” An NBC News headline begins, “Jayland Walker was a skilled wrestler and natural leader.” The headline of a recent CNN article begins, “We must not normalize this.”
These are just a few headlines you will find when you search the internet for the Jayland Walker story. The articles aren’t much better, oftentimes beginning with the sensational before the actual facts of the case are reported. The first line of a Fox News articles states, “Akron police on Sunday released bodycam footage showing officers fatally shoot 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an unarmed Black man, after a vehicle and foot pursuit last Monday.”
An NPR article entitled “The Akron police shooting renews questions about officer training” described how the number of shots fired are viewed as excessive force by many and questioned standard police training.
In each of these articles, one of the main things that are missing in the first few paragraphs of the story is the truth. Almost every news article focused on three things: that Jayland Walker was black, that he was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and that he was running away from police at the time he was shot.
The NAACP has gotten involved, demanding accountability and calling the shooting “excessive force.”
Jayland Walker was a black man, and in the world today, that is an important aspect of this story. However, it is the other things being focused on in this story that, according to the bodycam footage and information provided by the police, are misleading until put in context with all of the facts of the case.
Jayland Walker was unarmed at the time that the shooting took place. Video footage and a call by the police, however, put a weapon at the scene of the crime before Walker fled from his vehicle. Walker was being chased by police in his car prior to stopping and running on foot. As the car chase was happening, Walker fired a shot from his vehicle in the presence of police, and the police involved in the chase called in the gunshot immediately.
While Walker was technically unarmed at the time of his death, police knew he had a weapon with him and they knew that he was willing to shoot that weapon based on his actions immediately prior.
Another narrative being focused on is that he was running away from the police when they shot him and therefore, according to most news outlets, posed no threat to the officers. Akron police disagree with this assessment of the danger Walker posed.
When Walker ran from his vehicle, he was in a ski mask and ignored numerous calls from officers to stop and get on the ground. As he ran, the officers believed him to still be armed and thought him a credible threat to themselves and to others.
Walker was running toward a nearby parking lot with cars and presumably other people in the area. Officers on the scene had a reasonable belief that Walker could do serious harm to them or to innocent bystanders in that area. He was a threat, and police officers are taught to neutralize threats.
The video of the shooting is indeed graphic, and the fact that Walker was shot 46 times in a span of seven seconds is difficult to comprehend and is rightly concerning. But if one reads beyond the headlines, it becomes clear that the full story of Jayland Walker’s death is a much more complex case than the media is leading us to believe.