Ohio Grand Jury decides not to indict officers involved in fatal shooting of Jayland Walker; Prompting protests and increased Police oversight

An Ohio Grand Jury on Monday decided not to indict the eight officers involved in the shooting of 25-year old Jayland Walker, igniting public outcry. 

Walker was fatally shot 46 times by Akron Police last June after running from an attempted traffic stop, prompting a chase. In a probe conducted by the State of Ohio, Mr. Walker was determined to have fired the first shot at police officers during the pursuit. 

“In no way does [the grand jury’s decision] take away from the tragedy of June 27 and the loss of such a young life,” said Akron Chief of Police Stephen L. Mylett. “I firmly believe that no Akron police officer in the course of their duties wants to discharge their firearm at another human being, resulting in the loss of life.”

While calm for most of the day, protests in Akron began Monday night. As protestors blocked traffic with their cars, some protestors were nearly run down by other vehicles, according to 19 News. Around the same time, gunshots were heard at the protest, though no injuries were reported. 

The University of Akron canceled all Monday night on-campus events ahead of the announcement, and as of Tuesday, the university remains remote. Akron Public Schools remain closed as well, having sent notice to parents Monday that they would be closing in order to “help ensure the safety of our scholars and staff as we anticipate a decision from the Jayland Walker grand jury.”

According to the Akron Police Department, 6 individuals were arrested in connection with the protests Monday night, and numerous others issued citations.

An internal review of the officers’ actions will now begin. This probe is separate from the state’s criminal investigation, and will instead focus on whether or not the officers acted in accordance with their procedures, supervision, tactical judgment, and training.

Additionally, the police department has agreed to be put under the oversight of a civilian review board, and has updated certain procedures, including when someone is to be handcuffed. 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who organized the grand jury, made the following statement. 

“The grand jury concluded that the officers were legally justified in their use of force. But legal justification does not change the terrible, permanent damage of Jayland Walker’s death,” Yost said. “I grieve the loss of this promising young life, although I recognize that no words of mine can offer much comfort to his family.”

The killing of Walker stoked racial division when videos of the incident revealed large amounts of force from the officers onto Walker. The incident was immediately called into question as potentially racially motivated. With 57% of Akron’s population identifying as white on the US Census, and 30% identifying as black, the city is racially split, stoking divide.

“No one wins; it’s a loss for everyone,” said Chief Mylett. “We have a lot of work to do to find a path forward, because in the end, we need each other. Where trust has been lost or fractured, we will work hard to earn it back.”