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Fourth of July celebration canceled over deadly police shooting

The American city of Akron, Ohio, has canceled its Independence Day celebrations following a high-profile police shooting earlier this week, which saw several officers firing almost a hundred of rounds at a young black man they were chasing. The man died after more than 60 rounds struck his body.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, a Democrat, called the incident “a dark day for our city” on Friday as he announced that Akron authorities would not hold any of the planned Fourth of July festivities during the holiday weekend. The Rib, White, & Blue Festival was scheduled to begin Friday in downtown Akron and last until Monday.

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“I feel strongly that this is not the time for a city-led celebration,” Horrigan explained. The decision was caused by a high-profile police shooting that occurred on Monday and has already led to some protests in the city.

At that time, a group of police officers sought to pull over Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old black man, who worked as a DoorDash food-delivery driver. Walker reportedly refused to obey the officers’ commands. According to the Akron Police Department, he also fired a gun from outside his vehicle during the pursuit, the Washington Post reports.

A weapon was also found in Walker’s car, according to the police. However, one of his family’s attorneys, Boddy DiCello, told WaPo that there was “no evidence” the gun was in the car during the pursuit or that it was discharged at a police officer. Walker’s family also denied that Jayland fired at the police.

At a certain point, the man jumped out of his moving vehicle and sought to flee on foot. “Actions by the suspect caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them,” the police said in a statement published on Facebook. “In response to this threat, officers discharged their firearms, striking the suspect.” Walker was pronounced dead at that scene.

Eight officers fired a total of more than 90 rounds at Walker, hitting him more than 60 times, DiCello told WaPo, citing autopsy records. “There are wounds on all sides and parts of his body,” the attorney said.

The police did not comment on that information. Instead, the statement said that “officers immediately summoned for EMS as they began administering first aid until the arrival of paramedics.”

The force vowed to release body-camera footage of the incident on Sunday afternoon. The officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave for the time of the investigation that’s been launched by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the police said, adding that a separate internal investigation would be conducted by its Office of Professional Standards and Accountability as well. None of the officers involved has been publicly identified so far.

On Thursday, protesters gathered outside of the Akron Police Department office and blocked local traffic to demand “Justice for Jayland.” According to DiCello, Walker had no prior criminal record. The man had worked for Amazon before moving to DoorDash, the attorney told journalists on Thursday.

Walker’s family said they were “angry” and “sick” over the incident but they also called on the protesters to remain peaceful, including on Sunday, when body-camera footage is released. “We are very concerned that this video is going to cause Akron to burn, and we don’t want that. Nobody wants that,” the attorney said.

This is the third fatal police shooting in Akron since late December, according to some US media. Over 1,040 people were shot and killed by police officers in the US in 2021, WaPo reported.

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