The family of Jayland Walker, who was shot up to 60 times while running away from police during a chase on June 27, decided to leave his casket open during viewing and a funeral at the Akron Civic Theatre in Ohio on Wednesday.
The decision drew comparison to that of the family of Emmett Till 67 years ago, when the visual of his attack in Mississippi marked a turning point in the country’s civil rights movement.
“We must not normalize this,” Bishop Timothy Clarke, national head of the Church of God said. “We cannot make the deaths of our sons and daughters at such an early age a normal thing. There is nothing normal about this. We must not try to act as if this is all right. This is not all right!”
About 1,000 people attended the funeral for Walker, as family members and friends remembered him as a “sweet and so authentically genuine” young man with “the biggest heart.”
“God does not waste moments, and it’s so important to share the moments with the people that you love as often and as much as we can with each other,” Walker’s cousin Robin Elerick said.
The Rev. Robert DeJournett, Walker’s cousin, delivered the eulogy, saying that he and Walker’s family, all “grew up there” at Akron’s St. Ashworth Temple.
“I never thought people across the country will be calling my cousin’s name,” DeJournett said. “We never thought this would happen in Akron, Ohio, and I never thought it would be my family.”
Many police brutality activists have complained that, since the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police in 2020, little has been done about the shooting deaths of unarmed Black people by police.
Walker was unarmed when he was shot to death by Akron police but a gun was found inside the vehicle he was in when he initially fled authorities. Police claim Walker fired at them during the initial vehicle chase before Walker stopped and ran from the car he was driving.
His death resulted in days of protests in Akron. Eight police officers were involved in Walker’s shooting, and all were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.