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Grand jury declines to indict Akron police officers in killing of Jayland Walker

A flyer is shown in the hand of a person leaving the funeral of Jayland Walker at the Akron Civic Theatre on July 13, 2022 in Akron, Ohio. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal via AP)

(CNN) — A special grand jury in Ohio declined to indict the Akron police officers who fatally shot Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, dozens of times after a car chase and foot chase last year.

The grand jury concluded the officers were legally justified in their use of force on June 27, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Walker was unarmed at the time he was killed, according to police, though officers said he shot at police from his vehicle during the car chase. A gun was found in his vehicle after the shooting, police said. Yost said that shot was recovered from a nearby road and the ballistics matched the weapon found in Walker’s vehicle.

Walker also made a motion during the foot chase that officers interpreted as threatening, leading to the shooting, Yost said.

“He reached for his waistband in what several officers described as a cross-draw motion, planted his foot and turned toward the officers while raising his hand,” Yost said. “Only then did the officers fire, believing Mr. Walker was firing again at them.”

“The law allows officers to use deadly force to defend themselves or others against a deadly threat,” he added.

Walker suffered 46 gunshot entrance or graze wounds, according to an autopsy by Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler.

His death prompted an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, along with protests over racial injustice and police use of force, a few of which erupted into violence, resulting in damage to local businesses, Akron police said.

The bureau’s investigation was then referred to a special prosecutor, which presented the case to a grand jury. Ohio law allows for the officers themselves to testify before the grand jury, a set-up that a Walker family attorney said “favors the officers.”

Walker had no criminal record and worked as a delivery driver for DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Police released video a week after shooting

A week after the shooting, police released a narrated video timeline of the shooting featuring parts of body camera videos from 13 officers at the scene.

About 40 seconds after Walker drove away from police, “a sound consistent with a gunshot can be heard on the body-worn cameras of the officers,” police said in the video’s narration, and officers told dispatch a gunshot had been fired from Walker’s vehicle.

Police also shared still images taken from traffic cameras that showed “a flash of light,” purportedly a muzzle flash, along the driver’s side of the car.

After several minutes, Walker’s vehicle slowed and Walker exited and ran, police said. Several police officers got out of their patrol cars and chased him, and officers deployed Tasers to stop him, police said, but were unsuccessful.

Moments later, police said, Walker “stopped and quickly turned towards the pursuing officers.” Akron Police chief Stephen Mylett told reporters that officers believed Walker was reaching towards his waist and they “felt that Mr. Walker had turned and was motioning and moving into a firing position,” Mylett said, and officers opened fire, killing him.

Eight police officers “directly involved” in the shooting were initially placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation, Mylett said.

However, they were reinstated by Oct. 10, a decision Mylett attributed to “staffing issues” in comments to CNN affiliate WEWS. While back at work, the officers were not in uniform or responding to service calls, the Akron Police Department said.