8 Ohio officers in Jayland Walker’s fatal shooting did not violate police policies, probe finds

8 Ohio officers in Jayland Walker’s fatal shooting did not violate police policies, probe finds

The eight Akron, Ohio, police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black motorist who was shot 46 times in June 2022, were in compliance with the department's use of force policies, an internal investigation has found.

The findings come seven months after a special grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers, finding they were justified in their use of force.

Walker's death June 27, 2022, after an attempted traffic stop sparked days of demonstrations in the city and renewed outrage over police violence.

Jayland Walker. (Courtesy family)
Jayland Walker. (Courtesy family)

Police officers tried to pull him over for an alleged traffic violation, a darkened license plate light, and a car chase ensued. During that pursuit, they “reported a firearm being discharged from the suspect vehicle,” the Akron Police Department said.

When Walker jumped out of his moving car, officers pursued him on foot and eventually opened fire. The eight officers fired 94 shots in about 6.7 seconds, prosecutors previously said. An autopsy determined he was hit 46 times. Walker was unarmed at the time, but a gun was found in his car.

Two probes were launched into the fatal shooting, one by the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation that led to the grand jury's decision and the other by the police department that concluded Tuesday.

Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said the department's internal investigation concluded the officers were “in compliance” with police policies.

“I found that the facts and circumstances of this tragic shooting show that the officers had an objectively reasonable belief that Mr. Walker was armed and by his conduct presented an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to them and/or their fellow officers,” he said in a statement.

The department's probe found an officer involved in the Walker shooting had an extension to his agency magazine that increased capacity up to six additional rounds the night of the shooting, as well as two rounds of "training" ammunition. That officer told authorities he thought it was allowed and wouldn't knowingly violate agency policies.

A review of policies and procedures found “an absence of clear language addressing the topic.” Ultimately, Mylett said that officer did not “intentionally violate” any polices, the agency has “adjusted policies where needed” and the officer involved was verbally counseled “to pay closer attention when reloading his magazines.”

Demonstrators hold
Demonstrators hold

The investigation also identified potential violations of department policies regarding vehicle pursuits: Two patrol cruisers got involved in the car chase with Walker without specific authorization from the on-duty supervisor and two officers in one of those cruisers failed to immediately activate their body cameras.

However, Mylett said, those officers didn't "intentionally" violate policies.

“In the future, the activation of cameras during a vehicle pursuit will be resolved by the adoption of our recently implemented in-car camera program,” he added.

Mylett also found the deployment of Tasers on Walker by two officers was within policies and procedures.

He said “the dynamic of the routine traffic stop drastically changed” to “a significant public safety and officer safety issue” after authorities thought Walker fired a shot.

Walker exited his vehicle wearing a ski mask on a warm summer night, “further causing the officers to fear a more severe crime,” the police chief said.

Walker allegedly refused to comply with commands to show his hands and while fleeing on foot, he “turned towards officers, reached to his waistband and raised his arm in a shooting posture” — a move that caused officers to believe he was armed and intended to open fire, the statement said.

As a result, officers opened fire “to protect themselves and their fellow officers,” the chief said, concluding the response of deadly force was “objectively reasonable.”

Walker family attorney Bobby DiCello told NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland: "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. 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 June, Walker’s family filed a $45 million lawsuit against the city, mayor and police chief that alleges the eight police officers who shot Walker used excessive force and participated in a “culture of violence and racism” within the department.

The officers involved in the case were placed on administrative leave following the shooting but returned to full-time active duty in October.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com