It's a day of mourning for Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
It was a day of mourning in Akron, Ohio, as Jayland Walker was laid to rest. He's the 25-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police last month. Police say eight officers shot Walker following a car and foot chase after he was pulled over for a traffic violation. Police contend Walker fired a shot during the car chase, but he was unarmed when he was killed. There were at least 60 gunshot wounds on his body.
Anna Huntsman of member station Ideastream Public Media joins us from downtown Akron. Hi there.
ANNA HUNTSMAN, BYLINE: Hi there.
SHAPIRO: Give us a sense of what the mood was like today after days of new protests and new information about the shooting coming out.
HUNTSMAN: Right. It was a little bit quieter today. In fact, the city designated today a day of mourning. And the family had actually asked for a pause in protests today, but it was still very spirited. The services were held at this big historic theater downtown. Dozens of people came by throughout the day to pay their respects. I'd say about several hundred were there for the funeral. Walker and his family were deeply involved in their church, so there were prayers, scripture readings and worship music during the service. But at the same time, there were these poignant calls for justice and police accountability.
SHAPIRO: And what role did Walker's family play?
HUNTSMAN: Well, two of his family members and his best friend spoke during the service, and they described him as soft-spoken but a funny, kind person. He loved wrestling and other sports. His cousin, Robin Elerick, said the few weeks before he passed were a very hard time for him. His fiancee was recently killed in a tragic car accident, and Elerick said she had texted and talked with her cousin a lot during this time.
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ROBIN ELERICK: There were a lot of I love yous back and forth. One thing I want us all to take from this is that 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.
SHAPIRO: And what about the broader community?
HUNTSMAN: Right. Like I said, dozens of people came to this theater, but cars and trucks passing by would blast their horns in solidarity. I spoke with Akron resident Latoya Smith, and she told me her niece went to school with Walker, and they were close friends. She said Walker was actually her great-niece's godfather, and he was always holding her because she loved him so much.
LATOYA SMITH: He was a really nice person - like, just always smiling, talking to everybody around.
HUNTSMAN: And this community has really come together following Walker's death. I mean, there are so many people who came to the funeral today or who have been protesting since the shooting. They didn't know him personally, but this tragic way he died has really struck a chord with everyone.
SHAPIRO: And so what's likely to happen next?
HUNTSMAN: Well, after the funeral, Walker's family and their legal team held a news conference, and they actually announced that international investigators from the United Nations have offered to look into the Walker shooting and police (inaudible) protests. State investigators are looking at the shooting, and the family continues to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate as well.
SHAPIRO: Anna Huntsman of Ideastream Public Media, thank you.
HUNTSMAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.