(AKRON, Ohio) — Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by police in Akron, Ohio, on June 27. Authorities said they had initially tried 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. Body camera footage showed Walker exiting his car before officers opened fire.
At one point, Walker slowed down and jumped out of the passenger side door before it came to a full stop, according to the footage. As Walker ran away from police, several officers simultaneously fired several bullets, fatally shooting him.
An autopsy revealed that Walker had 46 gunshot wounds in his body.
Police said a gun was found in the car, but Walker was unarmed at the time he was killed.
Pamela Walker, the mother of Jayland Walker, spoke to ABC News Live’s Linsey Davis in her first interview after her son’s death.
DAVIS: Ms. Walker, we thank you so much for talking with us tonight. [We would] just like to start by asking how you’re holding up.
WALKER: Really, it’s not even day by day. It’s minute by minute, minute by minute, hour by hour. This is the most devastating thing that I’ve ever had to endure in my entire life. I don’t have any words for how I feel.
People don’t know what to say to you, and it really doesn’t matter what they say. I mean, I appreciate it. I appreciate the empathy and the love I [get] from everybody. But nothing can be said to take this feeling away.
I feel like I lost half of my heart. I lost half of my heart.
DAVIS: How did you learn about your son’s passing?
WALKER: I was at home and I got a phone call from a private number, and usually I don’t answer those because they’re telemarketers or something like that. And the next thing I knew, it rang again. And so I answered. And it was a detective on the phone, and she was saying that she needed to come by and discuss some things with me… So they and another guy came together and made themselves known and came in, and then they went on to tell me the story about what happened and that my son was deceased.
I clocked out after that. I don’t remember if I said anything [or] did anything. All I know that I did was scream. All I could do was scream, to tell me that all of these things happened and my son is deceased. My only son. It was hard to take.
DAVIS: Your family recently shared a birthday tribute video for what would have been Jayland’s 26th birthday. How would you like people to remember your son?
WALKER: Jayland was the best. He was the most lovable guy. He was quiet, even talking aloud. He’s kind of like me. I don’t talk loud. And he was quiet and reserved, but he was a lot of fun. He liked to joke around. He would joke and make you laugh and loved to listen to music. And he was really helpful to people.
DAVIS: I have a son. He’s Black. He’s 8. I have not yet had the talk with him. I’m curious at what age you started having those discussions with your son about what he should do during a traffic stop and what you said.
WALKER: Around 16 when he got his driver’s license… I said, ‘If you’re ever pulled over, do what they say. Don’t have any back talk or anything like that. Do what they ask of you. Don’t move suddenly. Because it seems like if you move suddenly or something like that, they would, you know, be aggressive… And if you follow my instructions,’ really, [and] I knew he would, and he would never have a problem with the police.
DAVIS: So what do you say to, what do you say to some critics who have said, well, he shouldn’t have run. He shouldn’t have had a gun and then he’d still be alive?
WALKER: Well, I don’t know anything about, all I can go on is what I hear, that he had a gun. He’s never even talked about guns around me, ever. We’ve never had a conversation about guns. Well, I think if I were him and the way that police respond to a Black young man, I would run [if I were] him. Yeah, I would run, too.
DAVIS: Have you watched the body camera footage?
WALKER: Absolutely not… I will never, I will never watch that. And it’s bad enough that I accidentally heard part of it going to something else online and heard some of the gunshots. And now I can’t even stand Fourth of July because of all the fireworks and all of that and everything. I can’t even take it.
DAVIS: And when you think about the number of bullets that were fired at him, the number of responding officers, what is your reaction?
WALKER: That was too much. Too much. How do you need that many bullets for one person? And he was a slight-build guy. He was 6 [foot] 2, but he only weighed probably 160 pounds. And I’m sure probably two of their bullets would have killed him anyway. And you needed eight people to be shooting at him like that… I can’t even fathom how you can stand there and just empty out your gun on someone who’s running away from you, who was running away whether he had a gun or not.
He was running away from you. That is not a threat to me.
DAVIS: What does justice look like at this point for you?
WALKER: Some kind of law changed or something to where the way that that happened, they don’t do traffic stops like that anymore, especially if it’s a traffic violation, and you feel the need to chase somebody down for a traffic violation… Like if someone has a minor traffic infraction or something like that, you have their information when you are looking at their license plate and everything. Send them a ticket or something.
DAVIS: I think a lot of people share that sentiment, Miss Walker. Again, we’re just so grateful that, that you would share your story with us and our condolences certainly to you and your entire family.
WALKER: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, too.
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