(AKRON, Ohio) — Jayland Walker’s funeral took place Wednesday, as Akron, Ohio, recognizes an official citywide day of mourning for the police shooting victim declared by city officials days earlier.
Services began midday Wednesday with musical performances. Singers and speakers were flanked by photos of Walker in the Akron Civic Theatre.
“Jayland was a kind and gentle soul who loved to make others laugh,” said Pastor Marlon Walker. “A true family man, Jayland cheers the time he spent with his mother, sister and grandmother. He had a zeal for life and love, traveling with his beloved fiancee. He loved underground music and basketball. He was just beginning to live his life, saving money to become a successful entrepreneur with aspirations of starting a business.”
Speakers took to the stage to not only honor Walker’s life, but also call for accountability in his death.
“One of the things that we cannot do, we must not do, is — we must not normalize this,” said Bishop Timothy Clarke. “We cannot make the deaths of our sons and daughters at such an early age the normal thing. … We should not be here and Jayland should not be in that box.”
The ceremony will be followed by a press conference with representatives of the family, who plan to discuss Walker’s death.
Walker’s sister previously told Good Morning America about how she remembers her brother as a funny, kind brother who looked out for his family and had big goals for his future.
“It’s hard to just talk about somebody who you expect to live your life out with,” Jada Walker said.
The 25-year-old unarmed Black man was fatally shot by officers of the Akron Police Department on June 27.
Officials said they attempted to pull over Walker for a traffic violation and an equipment violation with his car. He allegedly refused to stop, which set off a chase that ended in his death.
Officials said a flash of light seen in body camera footage appeared to be the muzzle flash of a gun coming from the driver’s side of Walker’s car.
In a second body camera video, officers are heard radioing that they heard a shot being fired from Walker’s car. The footage shows the officer following Walker’s Buick off Route 8 and continuing the pursuit on side streets.
At one point, Walker slowed down and jumped out of the passenger side door before it came to a full stop. As Walker ran away from police, several officers simultaneously fired several bullets, fatally shooting him.
The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation being led by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, officials said.
His death has prompted weeks of protests across the city.
“Tomorrow, Jayland Walker, a beloved son, brother, nephew, and friend will be laid to rest,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan on Tuesday. “I want to thank Akron City Council for passing this resolution declaring tomorrow a day of mourning, in support of Jayland’s family and friends and to respect them in their time of grief. I know our entire city is also grieving. I offer my sincerest condolences to Jayland’s mom, sister, family, and friends during this difficult time.”
The citywide day of mourning aims to address ongoing unrest concerning Walker’s death.
“The City encourages robust discussions about difficult topics and supports advocacy to change unjust laws, and supports those who press for meaningful change, by engaging their local, state, and federal legislatures,” the resolution to enact the honorary day reads.
In it, officials also call for peaceful protesting and healing throughout the community: “The City urges that the friends and family of Jayland Walker, and the entire Akron community, be surrounded with love and peace, and that the City would begin to heal.”
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