The police chief in Akron, Ohio, announced Tuesday that the use of deadly force by the eight officers responsible for the death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker was “in compliance” with the police department’s policies.
On June 27, 2022, officers fired at the Black driver nearly 100 times in under seven seconds after a traffic stop turned into a police chase, police say. Police claim that Walker initially fired at them from his car and then ran away on foot, unarmed. He was unarmed when the eight officers — seven of whom were white — killed him by striking or grazing him with 46 of the bullets.
Despite the community outrage and protests across the country following Walker’s death, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett acknowledged some of the mistakes of the officers in a three-page executive summary made public Tuesday, but he maintained that they would not face disciplinary action.
One officer had an extension on the magazine of his gun, allowing for an extra six rounds of bullets, according to the memo. But Mylett wrote that the officer’s violation was unintentional and “had no bearing on the outcome of this officer’s actions during this incident as the number of rounds he fired was well below the magazine’s original capacity.”
Further, two of the police cars went after Walker without a supervisor’s permission, and two officers did not turn on their body cameras. Mylett also said the investigation proves that those actions were not intentional violations.
Mylett concluded that the officers followed police department protocol when pursuing Walker, including their failed use of Tasers and the firing of their guns.
“I found that the facts and circumstances of this tragic shooting show that the officers had an objectively reasonable belief that Mr. Walker was armed and by his conduct presented an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to them and/or their fellow officers,” Mylett, who is retiring on Jan. 1, wrote. “I also believe the special grand jury determined the officers’ use of force was not excessive when it decided against criminal charges. I find that the officers did not violate agency policies when they used deadly force.”
As a standard procedure, the officers were temporarily placed on paid leave after Walker’s death.
In April of this year, a special grand jury in Summit County Common Pleas Court declined to charge the officers after sitting through five days of testimony, HuffPost previously reported. After the news, Walker’s family filed a federal lawsuit in June against the city of Akron seeking at least $45 million in damages.
“Multiple officers, each making an independent judgment about a threat and acting independently to neutralize that threat, creates a dynamic that amplifies the use of force exponentially,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a news conference after the grand jury’s decision, according to The New York Times. “That being said, it is critical to remember that Mr. Walker had fired on the police and that he fired first.”
The attorney for Walker’s family, Bobby DiCello, said that the decision wasn’t surprising but that it has motivated him and the family to pursue additional measures of justice.
“Everyone should be encouraged to read what the Chief of Police wrote. He said Jayland’s shooting ‘was in compliance with the policies of the Akron Police Department,’” DiCello told HuffPost. “That says it all. While not unexpected, it is exactly this position that makes it critical for us to continue the lawsuit on behalf of Jayland Walker’s family. In fact, it is exactly because of this position that we look forward to moving this case further through our justice system.”
The police killing of Walker received national attention amid a string of killings of unarmed Black civilians highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, and it has renewed concern about traffic stops that too often turn violent.