By Ford Fischer and Matt Taibbi / Substack
When the concept of bodycams was introduced, a lot of people thought it would be panacea, leading either to the end of police brutality or the easy weeding-out of bad actors. One might remember Barack Obama asking for $263 million for bodycams in the wake of Ferguson, saying police shootings were a “national problem” and he was committed to rolling back a “militarized culture.”
Police and community activists alike were skeptical. Footage, we were told, would mysteriously disappear, or would be edited to leave out key context (both police unions and activists talked about this). All of these problems are present in the story described by Ford Fischer’s News2Share crew in Akron, Ohio, involving the police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker and the protests in the city afterward.
We hear Ford asking why there’s no dash-cam footage, and no footage of the critical encounter, and although we do see police hitting Walker with as many as 60 bullets, we don’t see why.
The commonality with almost every infamous police killing, from Eric Garner to Sandra Bland to Freddie Gray to this one, is a problematic stop. Police are incentivized to accumulate arrests and summonses — remember in Ferguson it subsequently came out that the City Finance Director had written to the Chief of Police long before the fateful events, saying, “unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections” — so you see a lot of fatal incidents begin with stops for loitering, improper lane changes, “obstructing traffic,” or in this case, an unspecified “equipment violation.”
All of this is on display in this typically excellent News2Share video chronicle, which captures the bizarre official explanation for the shooting, followed by tense protests that end with dumpster fires, smashed barricades, and the use of tear gas.