By Perla Brito
AKRON, OH – Ohio State Attorney General Dave Yost said this week, “A grand jury in Ohio has decided not to charge eight Akron police officers in the death of Jayland Walker, according to a New York Times story by Michael Levenson and Jesus Jiménez.
Walker was a 25-year-old Black man who, reported the NY Times, “was shot dozens of times after an attempted traffic stop and a chase in Akron, Ohio” on June 27, 2022. Released video footage showed “officers chased him, first in vehicles and then on foot.”
There were eight officers involved who said they thought Walker had fired from his car and out of fear that he would fire again, they shot him 94 times. Walker “sustained 46 gunshot wounds.”
“Attorney General Dave Yost of Ohio said on Monday that Mr. Walker had fired at least one shot at the police from his car. But Mr. Walker was unarmed when the police pursued him on foot and fatally shot him.,” said the Times’ Michael Levenson and Jesus Jiménez.
The Times report added the state attorney general also said “the police did not know that Mr. Walker had left his gun in the car,” and it was found in Walker’s car after he was shot.
Akron city officials prepared for protests and unrest before the grand jury decision, said Michael Levenson and Jesus Jiménez, noting City Hall covered the windows with “with plywood and fenced off the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and courthouse. The city’s public schools were also closed on the day the grand jury decision was made.”
“City officials urged residents to protest peacefully in a designated “demonstration zone” in front of the county courthouse and the Akron Police Department.,” added Levenson and Jiménez.
At a news conference, Mayor Daniel Horrigan said, “I would ask that during these times of tension and trauma that you turn toward one another and not on each other,” said the Times.
Joanna Schwartz, a professor at U.C.L.A., said that “the fact that he [Walker] had fired a shot most likely bolstered the argument that the officers were justified in their use of deadly force.”
She added, “Police officers are very rarely prosecuted, even when they kill people and even when there are significant protests and public coverage and scrutiny of these cases.”
The NY Times’ Levenson and Jiménez wrote, “The decision not to charge the Akron police officers came at a time of heightened scrutiny of killings by the police since the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
“Such cases have led to murder charges in some cases, but others have led to no charges, particularly in cases in which prosecutors have argued that the victims exhibited violence that endangered officers’ lives,” they wrote.