Jayland Walker's funeral held as Akron acknowledges day of mourning

July 13 marks a citywide day of mourning for Jayland Walker.

July 13, 2022, 2:12 PM

Jayland Walker's funeral took place Wednesday, as Akron, Ohio, recognizes an official citywide day of mourning for the police shooting victim declared by city officials days earlier.

At a press conference following the funeral, the Walker family's legal team announced that the United Nations has reached out to Walker's family for help via a task force designed to address racial injustice and inequity in law enforcement.

"We have accepted their invitation to appoint international investigators to explore, as experts, what happened in this case," Bobby DiCello, who is representing the family, told reporters.

Funeral services began midday Wednesday with musical performances. Singers and speakers were flanked by photos of Walker in the Akron Civic Theatre.

"Jayland was a kind and gentle soul who loved to make others laugh," said Pastor Marlon Walker. "A true family man, Jayland cheers the time he spent with his mother, sister and grandmother. He had a zeal for life and love, traveling with his beloved fiancee. He loved underground music and basketball. He was just beginning to live his life, saving money to become a successful entrepreneur with aspirations of starting a business."

His family and friends recalled some of their favorite memories with him, prompting laughs and tears from the crowd.

PHOTO: A group arrives to pay their respects at a memorial service for Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio, July 13, 2022.
A group arrives to pay their respects at a memorial service for Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio, July 13, 2022. Walker, a Black motorist, was killed by Akron police in a hail of gunfire after a car and foot chase that began with an attempted traffic stop.
Gene J. Puskar/AP

"If it wasn't for you, I probably wouldn't be where I'm at now," said Walker's best friend, Dupri Whatley. "Never a dull moment with Jayland. Like, we became brothers -- from going to play basketball to being at my house, listening to music."

His cousin, Robin Elerick, told a story about an interaction between her two sons and Walker. He had wrestled his whole life and was considering trying out pro wrestling. As her sons brainstormed what his wrestling alter ego would be, "He kind of looked up and he said, 'Nah, I'm gonna be String Bean,'" prompting laugher throughout the room.

Speakers took to the stage to not only honor Walker's life, but also call for accountability in his death.

"One of the things that we cannot do, we must not do, is -- we must not normalize this," said Bishop Timothy Clarke. "We cannot make the deaths of our sons and daughters at such an early age the normal thing. ... We should not be here and Jayland should not be in that box."

In a statement to ABC News, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said, “On behalf of the City of Akron, our Police Department and our community, I want to express my profound sympathy to the family of Jayland Walker, which today had the painful duty to lay their loved one to rest under circumstances no family should ever have to endure."

PHOTO: Family members of Jayland Walker stand behind the podium during a press conference in Akron, Ohio, July 11, 2022.
Family members of Jayland Walker stand behind the podium during a press conference in Akron, Ohio, July 11, 2022.
Akron Beacon Journal via USA Today Network, FILE

The 25-year-old unarmed Black man was fatally shot by officers of the Akron Police Department on June 27.

Officials said they attempted to pull over Walker for a traffic violation and an equipment violation with his car. He allegedly refused to stop, which set off a chase that ended in his death.

Officials said a flash of light seen in body camera footage appeared to be the muzzle flash of a gun coming from the driver's side of Walker's car.

In a second body camera video, officers are heard radioing that they heard a shot being fired from Walker's car. The footage shows the officer following Walker's Buick off Route 8 and continuing the pursuit on side streets.

At one point, Walker slowed down and jumped out of the passenger side door before it came to a full stop. As Walker ran away from police, several officers simultaneously fired several bullets, fatally shooting him.

The officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation being led by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, officials said.

PHOTO: Jayland Walker is pictured in an undated family photo.
Jayland Walker is pictured in an undated family photo.
Walker Family

Walker's sister previously told "Good Morning America" about how she remembers her brother as a funny, kind brother who looked out for his family and had big goals for his future.

"It's hard to just talk about somebody who you expect to live your life out with," Jada Walker said.

His death has prompted weeks of protests across the city.

The citywide day of mourning aims to address ongoing unrest concerning Walker's death.

"The City encourages robust discussions about difficult topics and supports advocacy to change unjust laws, and supports those who press for meaningful change, by engaging their local, state, and federal legislatures," the resolution to enact the honorary day reads.

In it, officials also call for peaceful protesting and healing throughout the community: "The City urges that the friends and family of Jayland Walker, and the entire Akron community, be surrounded with love and peace, and that the City would begin to heal."

ABC News' Amanda Su contributed to this report.

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