A grand jury in Ohio has decided not to charge police officers in the death of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot dozens of times by the police after an attempted traffic stop and chase last summer in Akron, Ohio, the state’s attorney general said on Monday.
Mr. Walker died on June 27, 2022, after the Akron police tried to stop his car. When Mr. Walker did not pull over, video released by the police showed, officers chased him, first in vehicles and then on foot. Officers said that they thought Mr. Walker had fired a weapon from his car and that they feared he would fire again, prompting them to shoot him.
Attorney General Dave Yost of Ohio said on Monday that Mr. Walker had fired at the police from his vehicle and that he had fired first. But Mr. Walker was unarmed when he was on foot and fatally shot by the police. Officers fired at him more than 90 times, and he sustained more than 60 gunshot wounds. Mr. Yost that the police did not know that Mr. Walker had left his gun in his car.
“Multiple officers, each making an independent judgment about a threat and acting independently to neutralize that threat creates a dynamic that amplifies the use of force exponentially,” Mr. Yost, a Republican, said at a news conference announcing the grand jury’s decision. “That being said, it is critical to remember that Mr. Walker had fired on the police and that he fired first.”
After footage of the shooting was released by the Akron Police Department, protests erupted over several days throughout Akron, a city of about 200,000 people in northeastern Ohio, south of Cleveland. While the demonstrations were largely peaceful, some resulted in property damage and arrests of demonstrators.
Ahead of the grand jury’s decision, Akron city officials were bracing for the possibility of protests and unrest, covering the windows on the first floor of City Hall with plywood and fencing off the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the courthouse.
“If violence does erupt, officers will declare the assembly an unlawful assembly,” Chief Steve Mylett of the Akron Police Department said in a video update on April 10.
Craig Morgan, Akron’s chief city prosecutor, said before the grand jury’s decision that people would be arrested if “windows are being smashed and fires are being set.”
Bobby DiCello, a lawyer Mr. Walker’s family, said in a statement before the grand jury’s decision that the city was boarding up windows because “it has decided that if there’s going to be violence, it will come from people who are sick and tired of a system that has ignored them and injured them for generations.”
“City leadership doesn’t understand where that anger comes from,” Mr. DiCello said. “It doesn’t want to have that conversation because deep down, it simply doesn’t care what they are going through.”
A unanimous decision among the grand jury members was not required to charge the officers. Only seven of the nine jurors needed to agree that there was probable cause to move forward with charges.