AKRON, Ohio — The city began digital daily briefings on Monday to give the community the latest information on the police shooting of Jayland Walker on June 27.
Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett answered questions from media about the state of the city in the shooting's aftermath.
Horrigan started the briefing announcing the downtown curfew, instated last week, will be moved to 11 p.m. from 9 p.m. and will end at 5 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.
“We appreciate all those who have been able to peacefully demonstrate and have no serious safety concerns that would justify having an earlier curfew at this time,” he said.
On Friday, July 8, via video message, Horrigan had acknowledged residents’ rights to protest but asked that those protests remain peaceful.
The curfew is the result of simmering tensions in the city that have escalated since police body-worn camera footage was released to the public of Walker being shot roughly 60 times. The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation has taken over the investigation of the shooting.
Protests have taken place daily, with some becoming destructive. The city said the FBI notified officials that violent extremists are headed to the city to incite further unrest.
During the briefing, Mylett was asked to give an update on those extremists.
“We're we are working closely with the FBI, and they're they are keeping us informed,” he said. “The threats still exist, and they're credible. And we need to take precautions, not only as a police department, but as a community during, you know, demonstrations.”
One questioner asked how the city plans to respond to the Walker family’s requests, which are expected to be issued at a press conference Monday afternoon.
In a statement, the family said it wants “an end to the city’s efforts to blame Jayland for the horrific and unjustified shooting that took his life,” and is calling for the city to lift all curfews.
During the briefing, Horrigan apologized on behalf of the city and said placing blame on Walker is not the city’s intent.
Demonstrations have become violent, he said, with threats made against him, his family and his home, and those threats won’t be tolerated.
The Walker family also is expected to call for “an immediate end to the aggressive, violent tactics being used by the Akron police against protesters.”
Horrigan and Mylett both avoided answering for an officer’s behavior captured on a video that inflamed protests last week. In the video, the Akron officer can be clearly seen hitting a Black man who is being taken into custody.
Last week, a group of activist organizations held a press conference to issue a list of demands to the city and called for accountability by the Akron Police Department.
One group, the Freedom Bloc (Freedom Black Led Organizing Collaborative), sent a certified letter over the weekend to the city, to which Horrigan prepared a response, he said at the briefing.
“I am certainly willing to meet with any group to talk about some of their concerns, but not going to unilaterally agree to demands before a meeting,” he said.
In answer to a question about why the city won’t release the names of the eight officers who fired their weapons at Walker, Mylett said the city will not release the names.
Dangerous misinformation is being shared around the city, Mylett said, including the misidentification of officers involved in the shooting. In addition to the city’s long-standing policy of not releasing officers’ names, bounties have been placed on the officers’ heads.
“We have a duty to protect the community, to serve the community, but we also have a duty and responsibility to protect our officers and their families,” Mylett said. “And we're not going to release the names. They will be released at the conclusion of the investigation by the Attorney General and after the grand jury has heard the case, but until then, out of an abundance of caution for officer safety, we're not going to do that.”
The officials were asked to talk about the U.S. Department of Justice’s involvement in Akron.
When the unrest first began, the DOJ’s Community Resources Division contacted city officials, Horrigan said. The intent of the division is to bridge the gap between the city and groups that have questions about city government policing procedures.
“So they've been, I think, a very valued and trusted source on the ground, to be able to help facilitate some of those conversations,” Horrigan said. “And they plan on being here for a while, we certainly appreciate all the help they've been able to provide.”
On Sunday, Akron City Council issued a statement designating Wednesday, July 13 a day of mourning for the city, as Walker’s funeral is expected to take place. The Walker family is expected to release the details of the funeral during its press conference Monday afternoon as well as details of a unity gathering.