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Bodycam video doesn't show Walker making a threatening move, family lawyer says


On the line with us now is Bobby DiCello. He is a member of the legal team representing Jayland Walker's family. Welcome.

BOBBY DICELLO: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

FADEL: So this video is hard to watch. We just heard a description of this crescendo of gunfire - estimates of 90 bullets that were fired at Jayland Walker after what police said was a, quote, "threatening movement." When you watched this video, what was your biggest concern about the way police responded here?

DICELLO: The absence of a threatening movement - and I'm not trying to be glib in any way. When we sat with the chief of police, who played the video for us on Thursday night of the previous week, we actually heard him say he had looked for but hadn't yet found this threatening movement. And then we go to the press conference yesterday, and we hear him now say something about, you know, moving to the waistband area. This was now the second possible story that we'd gotten from him because, although he had said to us he couldn't find anything, the officers were telling him - and I don't know which officers they were - that he may have been coming out of a shooting stance, none of which is true. And most importantly, as we sit here right now, as I am talking to you right now, not a single officer involved has issued a statement to anyone that we know of. And so what we fear and truly believe is that this is an orchestrated kind of harmonizing of events so that the officers can fall in line and then write their statements and provide that to BCI.

FADEL: Now, the police chief did call the bodycam video shocking. What do you see when you look at that footage?

DICELLO: I see a killing. I don't see an arrest. I see the end of a life for no reason. I see a problem in America today when young Black men go out that way.

FADEL: Now, police say you can hear a sound consistent with a gunshot on the video. Traffic cam footage shows what looks like a muzzle flash, and officers told dispatch there was a shot fired from that car door. Let's say that was a gunshot - or at least police thought it was a gunshot - does that in any way explain what we saw in these videos?

DICELLO: No. What it does explain is that these officers were charged up, were not trained properly, failed to de-escalate, failed to contain their own reactions to those words - shot fired or shots fired - and attacked my client. I mean, what's very, very clear is that, when he pulls over, and you can see the car and the flashlights of the officer pointing it at - you know, their flashlights at the car, you can see him bail out and start sprinting across at first some grass and then an open parking lot. And as he's running and starts to make just a turn to look over his shoulder - bam. And it's not just a bam. It sounds like those packs of firecrackers that go off when you light a whole pack. It is disturbing. And that kind of attack is why we're here to say we must give justice to Jayland.

FADEL: What does justice look like?

DICELLO: Justice very simply looks like accountability and change. Accountability looks and feels like a genuine apology first from each officer, and then a statement from the city in the form of compensation for his loss - the loss of his life. And ultimately, we have a change - a real change, where there's a new set of policies and procedures in place not only for the city, but hopefully for the entire state of Ohio. We're not going to stop just by changing Akron's way of doing things. The city of Akron made one tiny, small step in the right direction by passing a law as recently as last year to get this video out as quickly as it did. We applaud that. That's good. All cities across America should have similar laws that require this information to get out. But what needs to happen for my client's case and for all young Black Americans today who are getting out of their cars is there must be laws in place, and there must be procedures in place that protect them.

FADEL: It feels like we keep having these conversations, though - calls for justice, protests after Black men are killed by police. Will anything be different this time?

DICELLO: You know, I'm not naive. Of course, we know that these calls for change could sound hollow, but we have no choice but to be hopeful. We have to be hopeful. And we have to continue to push in the direction of this change, and I think that change starts with a dialogue - an honest dialogue about what is happening between law enforcement and Black Americans today in America.

FADEL: Bobby DiCello is a lawyer for the family of Jayland Walker. Thank you so much for being on the program.

DICELLO: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.