BY CAROLINE VAKIL – The Hill
The head of the NAACP on Thursday, July 14, urged the Justice Department to launch a probe into the killing of Jayland Walker, a Black man who suffered dozens of gun wounds after being shot by police in Akron, Ohio.
“No one is above the law, including law enforcement. Those responsible for hunting him down and firing 90 bullets at him should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We are urging you and your Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder of Jayland Walker, and – if what we all saw with our own eyes is true – federally charge the officers responsible for his gruesome assassination,” Derrick Johnson,the president and CEO of the NAACP, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Johnson argued that law enforcement handled a mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill., a predominantly white and affluent Chicago suburb, differently. He said that while the suspect involved in the July 4 shooting was arrested by law enforcement “with dignity,” the coroner’s office received Walker’s body while he was still handcuffed.
“If the officers’ conduct did not scream just how inhumane and fatally dangerous they are, the very fact that they handcuffed his corpse speaks volumes. This does not happen to white people in America,” Johnson said. “Just over a week ago, a mass shooter was detained as a ‘person of interest’ before being officially charged 24 hours later. He killed seven people and wounded countless others at a parade, yet officers did their job professionally and arrested him with dignity.”
“It is time to hold law enforcement officials accountable for treating Black Americans by different standards. We pray that your department will launch this critical investigation in the quest for justice in this case,” he added.
The Justice Department told The Hill it did not have a comment on the Thursday letter, noting a previous statement they issued on the matter.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI Field Office in Akron, Ohio are closely monitoring and reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of Jayland Walker,” a Justice Department spokesperson previously said.
“The FBI continues to coordinate with state and local partners to provide resources and specialized skills. If the evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take appropriate action.”
The NAACP and some lawmakers have previously pressed the Justice Department to look into the shooting, which took place in late June.
Walker was stopped for equipment and traffic violations, with officials later turning into a two-part vehicle and foot pursuit. Police said they perceived Walker was a threat because a gunshot appeared to be fired from his car during the vehicular chase.
A loaded magazine, gold ring and handgun were later recovered in his vehicle.
This article originally appeared on The Hill.