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April 17, 2023
AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – A grand jury decided that eight Akron police officers involved in the June 2022 shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker face no charges.
The nine-member panel, seated by a special prosecutor, reconvened Monday morning. This was the second week the panel met and reviewed evidence from a 9-month BCI investigation.
University of Akron is moving all in-person classes at its main campus to remote learning starting Tuesday until further notice.
On-campus events will also be canceled until further notice. According to the university, student-athletes should check with their coaches for updates on practices and other events.
The university says campus will stay open, but employees who can work from home are urged to do so.
A portion of Wilbeth Road, near where Walker was killed, was shut down by a caravan of cars as protesters took to the streets Monday night. The City of Akron tweeted that S. Main Street was temporarily closed from Mill to State due to protests.
More than 50 protestors gathered outside of St. Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ.
The attorneys for Jayland Walker’s family and activists spoke out Monday evening on the grand jury’s decision not to charge officers.
“Our faith in the leadership of this community has been destroyed,” said Attorney DiCello.
Attorneys went on to encourage the community to protest this ruling, but to do so peacefully.
Representative Emilia Sykes is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the Akron Police Department.
“My disappoint today isn’t a blanket attack on law enforcement, but their job is to protect and serve. If you were like me watching the press conference, you had more questions than answers,” Sykes said.
Akron city officials spoke out about how the city moves forward during a press conference after the grand jury’s decision.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan first sent out his prayers to the Walker family.
“We will continue to talk with our residents to create an Akron that all of us want… Call for peace in our community. In this time of trauma, turn toward one another, not against one another.”
The officers involved, who won’t be named, will remain on administrative duties until further notice.
Police Chief Mylett said the department has updated its training for handcuffing suspects and their pursuit policy.
“No one wins. It’s a loss for everyone. Having said that, we have a lot of work to do to find a path forward,” said police chief Mylett. “Where trust has been lost, we will work to get it back.”
Mylett went on to say that while the community’s right to protest will be honored, they won’t tolerate violence against others or damage to property.
“We ask that outsiders with ill intentions to stay where they are,” the mayor said.
University of Akron is moving all Monday evening classes on its main campus to remote instruction. On-campus evening events are canceled Monday.
Attorneys representing some of the officers involved in the Walker shooting thanked the grand jury for their service in the “difficult and tragic case.”
Walker’s family will be holding a press conference regarding the grand jury’s decision at 6 p.m.
During the press conference, prosecutors confirmed that evidence showed that Walker fired a shot at officers during the pursuit.
According to prosecutors, one police body camera video clip from a Cuyahoga Falls officer shows Walker discharge a firearm from his vehicle.
The grand jury decided that the officers will face no charges in the Jayland Walker case. The grand jury returned a “no bill” decision.
Akron Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday. This includes all after-school activities.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost will give an update on the Walker case during a press conference at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. The conference will be streamed live above.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Police Chief Steve Mylett will host a press conference at 5:30 p.m.
According to the director of communications for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, there will be a rapid dismissal at the school Monday at 3 p.m.
Students will continue remote instruction through Thursday, because of the grand jury decision.
All activities and athletics for the week have been canceled.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan released a statement on the impending decision Monday:
“As we prepare for whatever is to come from the grand jury as they make decisions in the officer-involved shooting of Jayland Walker, we remain committed to listening to our residents and making space for their voices and concerns, while also prioritizing everyone’s safety. At the beginning of this process, I asked our community to have patience with the investigation and we are now getting very close to some answers. I have an overwhelming amount of faith in the Akron community and I know we will lean into our partnerships and relationships through the uncertainty of the days ahead.”
Walker was shot 46 times in a police pursuit during which evidence shows Walker fired a gun from his vehicle. He later fled on foot. Investigators found a gun and a loaded magazine in Walker’s car.
Last July, the shooting of Walker prompted demonstrations downtown where business windows were smashed and fires were set.
You can see video of protestors gathering last July in the video player below.
City officials are now once again preparing for unrest in the streets by setting up barricades at the city’s justice center and police department, and the county courthouse, boarding up the windows of city hall, and restricting access to other public buildings.
What is closed today?
Akron Public Schools declared a calamity day on Monday for students in its early college program at the University of Akron Polsky building, near the police department.
University of Akron classes in that building are already remote until further notice.
Akron Schools is also increasing security at its nearby STEM Middle School across from the Summit County Courthouse.
“We are entering a time when we are not colmpletely sure how things are going to work out,” said Dr. Stephen Thompson with Akron Public Schools. “But beyond a quesiton, beyond any question, our number one priority is the safety of our students.”
The city Municipal Building and the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, both along South High Street, are closed to the public. But city services won’t be interrupted. City council meetings will instead be held virtually until the building reopens.
The Akron Municipal Court’s courtrooms are closed to the public and will remain closed until further notice. Arraignments are being held remotely. Residents can pay fines online. Follow the court’s website for updates.
Many Downtown Akron businesses also boarded up their windows last week.
Where are protests happening?
A designated demonstration zone is planned along South High Street, from East Bowery Street to State Street. That portion of the roadway will be blocked by barricades to protect protesters from traffic. Jayland Walker’s family, Akron leaders ask for peace ahead of grand jury decision
“The Akron Police Department and Mayor [Dan] Horrigan want everyone to get home safely from protests: this includes protestors, the traveling public, bystanders, the police, the press, and anyone else who may come in contact with a civil demonstration,” reads the city’s website. “We understand that citizens may also choose to demonstrate and protest elsewhere and they will of course be able to do so.”
In the video player below you can hear what Akron’s Police Chief wants residents to know ahead of the grand jury decision.
Groups on Tuesday prayed for peace downtown.
“We’re praying first for comfort and peace for the Walker family, that’s first and foremost. We don’t ever want to forget the reason that we’re here, but also we’re praying for the leadership of our city, from the mayor to council to the grand jury,” R. Stacey Jenkins, senior pastor of House of Prayer for All People, told FOX 8 News.
City residents can get the latest updates on road closures and building closures and learn more about the grand jury’s process and civil rights for protesters on the city’s dedicated website, AkronUpdates.com.