The Ohio police officers who were involved in the fatal shooting incident of Jayland Walker on June 27 have “bounties” placed on their heads, according to officials.
During a joint news conference last week, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan noted the primary reason officers’ names are not being released stems from a long-standing policy not to identify those involved in fatal shootings.
Steve Mylett, chief of the Akron Police Department, further clarified another reason was due to death threats being made against officers, which also prompted the chief to instruct officers to remove their name tags as a precaution.
“Look, the challenge right now is, there [have] been bounties placed on police officers’ heads,” Mylett said, adding that it’s the department’s duty to protect not only the community, but also the officers and their families, News 5 Cleveland reported.
Walker, 25, refused to stop during a traffic stop and instead fled from authorities, prompting a pursuit. Just briefly into the chase, he fired a gunshot from his car, authorities said.
According to video footage released by Akron police, Walker is seen jumping out from the passenger side of his still-moving vehicle wearing a black ski mask. Officers deployed tasers in an attempt to stun the man, but these were unsuccessful. He then continued on foot into a nearby parking lot, where police opened fire after they felt threatened as Walker “quickly turned towards the officers,” making a threatening gesture.
Less than 24 hours before the police chase in Akron, authorities in neighboring New Franklin Township had attempted to stop a car matching Walker’s for the same equipment violation reasons. The chase was called off by a supervisor when the car crossed the township’s border with Akron.
Since police released body camera footage of the incident, Akron has been subjected to daily anti-police protests that have turned violent. A state of emergency was declared by Horrigan earlier this month as he also announced a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., which will be active until further notice.
Meanwhile, Mylett said they obtained information from the FBI that “violent extremists” are entering the city to pose as demonstrators in order to perpetuate violence, which mirrors behavior that was observed during protests in Minneapolis in 2020–21, when people came from outside the city to stir violence during Black Lives Matter and anti-police protests.
The eight officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave while the state investigates the incident. Seven of those officers are white, and one is black.
Investigators recovered an unloaded handgun, an ammunition clip, and what appeared to be a wedding band on the front driver’s seat of Walker’s car, authorities said, adding that he was unarmed at the time he was shot.
During last week’s briefing, Mylett labeled the information that is being spread to the public claiming the officers involved are back on duty as false.
“When you put out misinformation, that actually tends to increase the level of tension. Misinformation doesn’t help the situation at all,” the chief said, also noting that misinformation in relation to the names of the officers involved in the shooting is being spread as well.
“Our officers are understandably concerned for public safety and for the safety of their loved ones at this time,” the chief said. “We have received death threats with officers’ information being posted.”