Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/USA Today Network
A photo of Jayland Walker appears on a program for his funeral at the Akron Civic Theatre on July 13, 2022.
The police officers involved in last year’s shooting death of a 25-year-old Black man in the Ohio city of Akron did not violate agency policy in the incident, and none of them will be disciplined or released from duty, the Akron police chief said Tuesday, citing the results of an internal investigation.
The Akron police officers’ use of deadly force against Jayland Walker after a car chase and foot chase in June 2022 was in compliance with the police department’s policies, Police Chief Stephen Mylett said Tuesday.
Mylett’s announcement comes about seven months after a special grand jury in Ohio declined to indict the officers in the case. The grand jury concluded the officers’ use of force was legally justified, the state attorney general said at the time.
The incident happened 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, 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, state Attorney General Dave Yost said in April. Officers attempted to use non-lethal Tasers to pursue him, Yost said. Walker then made a motion that officers interpreted as threatening, leading to the shooting, Yost said.
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 natched the weapon, Yost said in April.
Eight police officers fired a total of 94 shots at Walker within 6.7 seconds, authorities said. Three of the officers fired 18 times each. Walker had 46 gunshot entrance wounds or graze wounds, an autopsy showed.
Mylett “reviewed the use of force in light of that standard which allows the use of deadly force where an officer is in imminent risk of serious bodily harm or death,” Mylett wrote in an executive summary of the internal investigation released Tuesday.
“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 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.”
Mylett announced his department’s internal investigation in April, after the grand jury decided it would not indict the officers.
After reviewing his department’s probe as well as one by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, “I find that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and the officers complied with the use of force policy,” Mylett wrote in Tuesday’s executive summary.
Walker’s family in June filed a lawsuit in federal court against Akron and several police officers, seeking at least $45 million in damages. The suit alleged officers used excessive force.
In a news release Tuesday announcing the end of the police department’s investigation, the Akron mayor’s office said it would not offer further comment “due to pending litigation against the city.”