AKRON, OHIO – The family of Jayland Walker, shot more than 40 times by Akron police, said they were “astonished” after a video surfaced this week of two Akron officers removing a “Justice for Jayland” sign from a neighborhood.
“The community can only take so much before they lose it,” said the family’s attorney Bobby DiCello.
DiCello accuses Akron police of censoring freedom of speech.
About 300 of the posters placed on utility poles among other areas were posted by a resident who died just before Thanksgiving.
“I received a call from Mrs. Walker at midnight,” said DiCello. “When I heard her voice, she was shaken by this and couldn’t believe any officer could sink this low.”
Walker was shot and killed by Akron police in June following a pursuit. Police said he fired a shot at officers. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the deadly shooting.
The city of Akron has an ordinance prohibiting posters or other paper devices in the public right of way, including utility poles.
FOX 8 found other signs unrelated to Walker affixed to utility poles nearby that were not taken down by police.
“It’s ridiculous. I’m going to call it what it is, it’s a lie,” said DiCello. “You know how I know it’s a lie? Because we sent people out to find all the other locations where these kinds of signs are still up.”
Officers under investigation for Walker’s death were reinstated by the Akron police chief in October. At the time, the police chief said the department was short staffed and some police services could be cut as a result.
DiCello questioned if removing signs is an essential service for officers and said the department should have more accountability for its actions.
“First of all, an acknowledgement that these officers were acting out of their own distain, for Walker and his story.”
Earlier this week, Akron police said they were investigating the sign removal incident. Police did not respond to additional requests for comment Friday.
It’s not clear if officers were directed to remove the signs.
“The officers who took down those signs should not be officers because they are taking personally the First Amendment rights of folks who have seen the death of Jayland Walker or know his death and they’re stepping on those rights,” said DiCello.