Police shooting of Jayland Walker might face more scrutiny
Apr 17, 2023, 1:59 PM | Updated: 4:12 pm
(Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal via AP, File)
The deadly police shooting of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, by eight officers last summer sparked protests in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and led to calls for a federal investigation. Ohio’s attorney general announced Monday that a grand jury had declined to indict the officers and said that Walker fired at least one shot at police during a pursuit.
Walker’s family called it a brutal and senseless shooting. A police union official said the officers thought there was an immediate threat and that their actions were in line with their training.
WHY DID POLICE CHASE WALKER?
Police said the chase began when they tried to pull Walker over for minor equipment violations on June 27 and he failed to stop. They said he then fired a shot from his car 40 seconds into the pursuit.
The chase began on a city street, continued onto a freeway and ended on a street where police had set up a roadblock.
Akron police initially did not try to stop Walker, but officers decided to follow him after they saw him pass by the same intersection within 10 minutes and became suspicious, the state investigation said.
Less than 24 hours before the pursuit, an officer in a nearby township had tried to stop a car matching Walker’s for equipment violations. A police supervisor called off that pursuit when the car crossed the township border into Akron.
HOW DID THE CHASE END?
Police body camera footage released by the city showed Walker wearing a ski mask, jumping out the front passenger door of his still-moving car and then running into a parking lot. A handgun, loaded magazine and wedding ring were found on the driver’s seat of the car, police said.
Officers chased Walker for about 10 seconds before they fired from multiple directions in a burst of 94 shots that lasted 6 or 7 seconds. A county medical examiner said Walker was shot at least 40 times.
The blurry footage did not clearly show what authorities said was a threatening gesture before Walker was shot.
WHO WAS JAYLAND WALKER?
Walker was remembered at his funeral last summer by family and friends as a shy, kind, thoughtful man with a quiet sense of humor.
“When I think about Jayland, I think about someone who had the biggest heart,” said Robin Elerick, a cousin. “He was so sweet and so authentically genuine.”
Walker grew up in Akron and was on the wrestling team in high school. He had been working as food delivery driver.
A month before he died, his fiancée died in a car crash near Cincinnati.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said Monday that the city will begin an internal investigation into the shooting, but he would not release the names of the eight officers because of ongoing threats against them.
The officers, who initially were placed on leave, will remain on administrative duties. None of the eight officers appear to have been disciplined for any previous use of force incidences, according to investigation records released by the state.
There’s a possibility that U.S. Department of Justice could open a federal civil rights investigation. The NAACP and an attorney for Walker’s family have called for that to happen and the department has said it is monitoring the case.
An attorney for Walker’s family said they will file a civil lawsuit within the next few months.