Grand jury declines to indict Akron police officers in killing of Jayland Walker


A special grand jury in Ohio declined to indict the Akron police officers who fatally shot Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, dozens of times after a car chase and foot chase last year.

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The grand jury concluded the officers were legally justified in their use of force, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The incident took place just after midnight on June 27, 2022, when police initiated a traffic stop of a 2005 Buick vehicle with a broken license plate light, according to authorities. The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Walker, drove away from officers and fired a gunshot from his vehicle during the car chase, according to police.

Walker then exited the vehicle wearing a ski mask and led police on a foot chase, ignoring commands to stop and show his hands, Yost said. He then made a motion that officers interpreted as threatening, leading to the shooting, Yost said.

"He reached for his waistband in what several officers described as a cross-draw motion, planted his foot and turned toward the officers while raising his hand," Yost said. "Only then did the officers fire, believing Mr. Walker was firing again at them."

"The law allows officers to use deadly force to defend themselves or others against a deadly threat," he added.

Walker was unarmed at the time he was killed, according to police. A gun was found in his vehicle after the shooting and the ballistics of a shot recovered nearby matched the weapon, Yost said.

Autopsy shows 46 entrance wounds or graze injuries to Jayland Walker, medical examiner says

Eight police officers fired a total of 94 shots at Walker within 6.7 seconds, according to the investigation. Three of the officers fired 18 times each.

Walker suffered 46 gunshot entrance wounds or graze injuries, according to an autopsy by Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler. Even so, Walker was handcuffed after the shooting, a police move that "added insult to a terrible loss," family attorney Bobby DiCello told CNN last year.

His death prompted an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, along with protests over racial injustice and police use of force -- a few of which erupted into violence, resulting in damage to local businesses, Akron police said.

The bureau's investigation was then referred to a special prosecutor, which presented the case to a grand jury over the past week. Ohio law allows for the officers themselves to testify before the grand jury, a setup that DiCello said "favors the officers."

The special grand jury was composed of nine people: three men and six women, according to Ohio Assistant Attorney General Anthony Pierson. Two of the jurors were Black.

In Ohio, at least seven of the nine jurors must vote in favor of charges in order for an indictment to come down, but Yost said they were precluded by law from discussing the final vote.

Walker had no criminal record and worked as a delivery driver for DoorDash and Uber Eats.

A firearm, bullet casing and gold wedding ring were found in Walker's vehicle the night of his death, according to the investigation. His fiancée, Jaymeisha Beasley, died in a car crash a month earlier, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

When asked whether Walker may have been seeking a "suicide by cop" at the time of the shooting, Pierson said there was no direct evidence for this motive.

However, their investigation found Walker was going through a "tough time" and was "not acting (like) himself," he said. No drugs or alcohol were in Walker's system when he was shot, Pierson said.

The investigators with the Ohio Attorney General's office conducted more than 100 interviews and reviewed footage from over 50 body-worn cameras, Pierson said. They also reviewed relevant surveillance video, including 25 videos from the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to Pierson.

All Akron Public Schools will close Tuesday due to the announcement of the grand jury's decision not to bring any state charges against the officers, according to spokesperson Mark Williamson.

Police released video a week after shooting

A week after the shooting, police released a narrated video timeline of the shooting featuring parts of body camera videos from 13 officers at the scene.

About 40 seconds after Walker drove away from police, "a sound consistent with a gunshot can be heard on the body-worn cameras of the officers," police said in the video's narration -- and officers told dispatch a gunshot had been fired from Walker's vehicle.

What we know about the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker as grand jury considers the case

Police also shared still images taken from traffic cameras that showed "a flash of light" -- purportedly a muzzle flash -- along the driver's side of the car.

After several minutes, Walker's vehicle slowed and Walker exited and ran, police said. Several police officers got out of their patrol cars and chased him, and officers deployed Tasers to stop him, police said, but were unsuccessful.

Moments later, police said, Walker "stopped and quickly turned towards the pursuing officers." Akron Police chief Stephen Mylett told reporters officers believed Walker was reaching towards his waist and they "felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was motioning and moving into a firing position," Mylett said, and officers opened fire, killing him.

Eight police officers "directly involved" in the shooting were initially placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation, Mylett said.

However, they were reinstated by October 10, a decision Mylett attributed to "staffing issues" in comments to CNN affiliate WEWS. While back at work, the officers were not in uniform or responding to service calls, the Akron Police Department said.

On Monday, Yost said they could not say whether any of the eight officers involved testified before the grand jury.

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