Akron Police Clear Officers in Jayland Walker Shooting

In a recent development, the Akron Police Department concluded its internal review of the tragic shooting death of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, involving eight officers. The findings, announced by Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett, state that the officers acted reasonably, aligning with department policies. Let’s delve into the details of this polarizing incident.

About Akron Police

On June 27, 2022, Jayland Walker, a resident of Akron, Ohio, was pulled over for minor infractions. What transpired next was a rapid escalation, with Walker fleeing the scene and firing a shot from his vehicle less than a minute into the pursuit. Body camera footage released a week later depicted Walker succumbing to a barrage of gunfire, revealing a handgun, loaded magazine, and a wedding ring on the driver’s seat.

The Internal Investigation

Akron Police Clear Officers in Jayland Walker Shooting
Akron Police Clear Officers in Jayland Walker Shooting

Chief Mylett’s review, initiated after a special grand jury deemed the officers’ use of force legally justified, aimed to answer the crucial question: Did the officers adhere to APD policies? The affirmative conclusion suggests that, according to Mylett, the grand jury’s decision was rooted in the objective reasonableness of the use of force.

Mylett outlined the sequence of events that led to the officers’ decision to use deadly force. Walker, wearing a ski mask on a warm June night, ignored commands, reached into his waistband, and assumed a shooting posture, causing officers to perceive an imminent threat. The ensuing dynamic, described as “very fluid and very dangerous,” prompted officers to protect themselves by firing at Walker.

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The released body camera footage, albeit blurry, adds a layer of ambiguity to the narrative. Authorities claim Walker made a threatening gesture, but it’s not clearly discernible in the footage. The chase lasted about 10 seconds before officers fired from multiple directions, resulting in a 6 to 7-second burst of shots.

Akron Police Clear Officers in Jayland Walker Shooting
Akron Police Clear Officers in Jayland Walker Shooting

Despite the internal review deeming the use of force justified, the case remains controversial. Activists, including the NAACP and Walker’s family attorney, have called for a civil rights investigation by the Justice Department. Walker’s family, grieving the loss of an unarmed man, labeled the shooting as brutal and senseless.

The grand jury’s decision in April to acquit the officers of criminal charges stirred debate. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost emphasized that Walker had fired at the police, framing the shooting as self-defense. The autopsy revealed Walker was shot at least 40 times, and no illegal substances were found in his body.

Initially placed on leave, the eight officers resumed administrative duties 3 1/2 months after the incident. The aftermath of this controversial case continues to fuel discussions around police conduct, racial disparities, and the need for transparency and accountability in law enforcement.

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