AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Inspired by the fatal police-involved shooting death of Jayland Walker, volunteers in Akron hope to help prevent residents from being stopped by police, offering to repair or replace car lights or light bulbs at no cost.

The Freedom Taillight Project was inspired by a similar effort in New Orleans.

The principal organizer, who goes only by the name of “Madonna” said she thought about doing it here for several years, but following Walker’s death, she believed the time was right.

Using contributions, she and others held the first of their car repair clinics over the weekend, helping about 15 drivers.

“Ideally, right now we are just replacing light bulbs, so if you have a headlight bulb out, if you have a taillight bulb out, if you have a license plate light bulb out, we will replace those and we are able to do that for free through donations to our program,” said Madonna.

Walker came to the attention of Akron police officers because of a broken light on his car. He then led police on a brief chase during which officers say he shot at them.  

The chase ended when Walker got out of his car and ignored officers’ commands to stop.

Body camera video from officers involved in the shooting show they first used a taser to try and stop Walker, who was wanted for felony fleeing in New Franklin the night before.

Police Chief Steve Mylett says the officers believe Walker made a threatening gesture and that is when they began shooting, hitting Walker more than 40 times.

Walker was unarmed at the time of the shooting, but a gun was found on the seat of his car.

“Jayland was pulled over for a cracked taillight and ended up dead. Taking away the reason for somebody to be pulled over is just one of the ways to fight the fight,” said Madonna.

“A lot of people having a tail light out, having a cracked tail light can be a reason for the police to harass you, especially if you are a person of color,” said organizer Nicole Farrell. “When something is as cheap as a tail light, I know it seems cheap to you and me, but it can be very cost prohibitive to people and especially when you are facing a ticket as well. On top of that, it can be extremely hard for people to afford living under the poverty line.”

Farrell noted that if someone cannot pay their fine, their troubles only escalate.

“A simple traffic ticket, if you cant afford to pay it, can result in jail and really its just a snowball effect,” she said.

Organizers are planning to have a second clinic on September 10, perhaps at Arlington and Rosemary. The time and details have yet to be announced.

“We are absolutely open to anybody and the only requirement to receive our services is to have a light bulb out on your vehicle,” said Madonna.