(AKRON, Ohio) — The Akron Police Department has finished an internal investigation into the fatal police killing of Jayland Walker, following a car and foot chase by police on June 27, 2022.
Akron Chief of Police Stephen Mylett said the findings showed that “the use of deadly force was in compliance with the policies of the City of Akron Police Department” and officers did not violate department protocol in the fatal chase.
Walker’s death sparked protests and outrage from civil rights leaders nationwide.
Walker family attorney Bobby DiCello criticized the findings, calling for justice in his death.
“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,"” said DiCello. “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.”
Walker was killed after officers attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation and an equipment violation with his car. Walker refused to stop, according to officials, which set off a car chase, in which Walker allegedly fired a shot from his vehicle.
After later exiting his vehicle and running away on foot, Walker was fatally shot by eight officers. Walker had 46 gunshot wounds in his body, according to an autopsy report. Officials say the officers fired a total of 94 shots at Walker and that he was unarmed during the shooting. Following the shooting, a gun was recovered inside his car.
In Mylett’s executive summary of the report findings, he explained several potential policy violations presented in the investigation that have been deemed unintentionally violated or within department procedures.
“Once Mr. Walker discharged his weapon from his vehicle at or in the direction or in the presence of the pursuing officers, the dynamic of the routine traffic stop dramatically changed from a routine traffic stop to a significant public safety and officer safety issue,” Mylett said.
“When questioned about this, the officer stated that he was told by other members of the police department that it was permissible to add an extension to the magazine in his department issued weapon. He fired rounds that did not include training ammunition,” he said.
Another concern was that an officer was discovered to have added an extension to his department issue magazine, increasing its capacity up to six additional rounds, according to Mylett. He said the officer also inadvertently had two rounds of “training” ammunition in his magazine. However, the officer told investigators he did not knowingly violate department policies concerning such matters. The agency responded by acknowledging that it lacked clear language on the matter and adjusted accordingly.
“The officer stated he would not knowingly violate agency policies. A review of agency policies and procedures regarding this issue uncovered an absence of clear language addressing the topic. I find that the officer did not intentionally violate any policy or procedure when he added an extension to his department issued magazine. In response to this discovery, the agency conducted a policy review and adjusted policies where needed,” Mylett said.
One concern was raised about two patrol cruisers that pursued Walker without authorization from a supervisor — as well as the failure from two of officers in one of those cruisers in turning on their body cameras in accordance with APD policy, Mylett said.
“Given the totality of the circumstances at the time of the pursuit, to include the significant officer and public safety issues present and the dynamics of the situation, and based on the accounts of the officers involved, I find that no officer intentionally violated agency policies when they entered the vehicle pursuit nor did any officer intentionally fail to activate their body worn cameras,” Mylett said.
Another concern pointed to an officer’s use of a patrol vehicle’s push bumpers to close the driver’s door of Walker’s vehicle amid the car chase. Walker appeared to be trying to exit his vehicle at the time, according to the investigation.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, and the information known to the officer at the time of his decision to use his patrol car in such a manner, I find his actions to be reasonable given the situation,” Mylett said.
The use of Tasers also came under scrutiny by the department. Two officers deployed their Tasers against Walker to detain him during the foot pursuit though the effort was unsuccessful. The use was found to be within the policies and procedures of the department, according to Mylett.
“While certainly tragic, after having reviewed the BCI investigation and Lt. Lieke’s investigation, and the City’s policy, similar to the Special Grand Jury, I find that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and the officers complied with the use of force policy,” Mylett said.
Walker’s family has continued to call for justice since his death and slammed what they say is a lack of accountability against the officers who shot him.
A Special Grand Jury decided not to file criminal charges against the eight officers involved in June 2023.
The Walker family has since filed a lawsuit against the city of Akron and its police department in Walker’s death.
“A year has passed since Jayland Walker was violently ripped away from his family, and still they have not been able to achieve justice and accountability,” said DiCello, in the June announcement of the lawsuit.
He continued, “The City of Akron and its police department have been given every opportunity to participate in a fair process to address what went wrong last June 27. At every turn, they protect their officers from accountability. Now, we must engage the judicial process to accomplish what the city was unwilling to do—hold these officers accountable for their actions. We will use the judicial system to ensure that Jayland Walker and his family get the justice they deserve.”
The Akron Police Department declined to comment on pending litigation. The City of Akron and the mayor’s office declined ABC News’ request for comment following the lawsuit’s filing.
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