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8 officers involved in shooting death of Jayland Walker return to work at Akron Police Department

Chief Steve Mylett says staffing crisis needed to be addressed
Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 06:12:11-04

AKRON, Ohio — The eight Akron police officers who are under investigation for their involvement in the deadly shooting of Jayland Walker have returned to work.

The officers, whose names have not been released, came back to work on Monday. They are not in uniform, and they are not responding to calls, said Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett.

Mylett said the decision to bring back the officers connected to the controversial shooting was made in part to address staffing issues.

"I need as many people as I can muster so I don't have to cut services to the community," Mylett said.

According to Mylett, the department has had a staffing decrease over the last few weeks to the point where it has become a "crisis."

"So much so that I consider it a crisis—staffing levels in our police department—to the point where I'm being put in a position where I may end up having to decide to cut some services that we provide to the community because we just don't have enough people. And that's certainly something I do not want to do," Mylett said.

Watch some of News 5's interview with Mylett:

8 officers involved in shooting death of Jayland Walker return to work

The chief met with advisory councils on how to proceed, taking into consideration the needs of the department and the community at large. Mylett said he discussed the best course of action, which ultimately led him to the decision to bring back the officers involved in the shooting and reassign them.

Mylett said the officers will be on administrative duty inside the department. They will be tasked with taking reports over the phone and assisting with other duties inside—they will not be wearing uniforms or out on patrol.

"I believe it will make a significant difference because every call that an officer is able to handle over the telephone is one less response by a field officer, and that keeps officers in the neighborhood and free to answer other 911 calls, higher priority calls. I have looked to my deputy chiefs to assign the officers appropriately. And they're doing that," he said.

By doing so, the department will avoid having to cut services—which is something that may have happened if the department had waited for the grand jury's decision.

"I recognize that this decision will have an impact. And there may be some community concern, but I didn't take this decision lightly. And I think this decision is in the best interests of the citizens and businesses of Akron," Mylett said.

Mylett continued, "I assure you that this has not been a vacation for these officers. This shooting has impacted everybody in the city of Akron and beyond. And this shooting has certainly impacted the officers as well...bringing [them] back and reassigning them provides a service to the community that these officers are able to provide. And that is the decision — that decision was based on that."

So far this year, APD has had dozens of officers leave the department, and Mylett said he anticipates there will be more.

Bringing these eight officers back into limited service will help, and the decision to have officers who were on leave come back to help with administrative duties is not uncommon, in Akron or in other departments around the country, Mylett said.

Tuesday evening, Ken Abbarno and Bobby DiCello, the attorneys for the Walker family, released the following statement:

The planning behind the decision to reinstate the police officers involved in this summer’s tragic killing of Jayland Walker is callous and ignores the Walker family’s needs for a fair process.

The decision to reinstate these officers – even to desk duty – fails to take into account a pending investigation into their actions that culminated in Jayland’s brutal shooting and unjustifiable death resulting from a barrage of more than 90 bullets. This decision undermines the legitimacy of the investigative process the Walker family has been asked to follow and which BCI has led to this point. On behalf of the Walker family, we call on the City of Akron to do the right thing and place the officers back on leave until the investigation has been completed.

Jayland Walker's death and the first body camera footage released
On the night of June 27, Walker was shot multiple times by Akron police after a traffic stop turned into a pursuit and a foot chase that ended in a parking lot near Firestone Park.

Captain Dave Laughlin, of the Akron Police Department, said it all started when two officers were trying to stop a car on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood. Within a few seconds of being on Route 8, officers said a firearm was discharged from Walker’s vehicle. Officers pursued him down Route 8 and I-77 where he exited into the Firestone Park Area before jumping out and fleeing on foot, heading north through a grassy area into a parking lot at Bridgestone.

During a press conference with Akron police where the department released body camera footage of the moments leading up to Walker's death, authorities showed reporters a narrated video of specific moments during the pursuit and shooting, including, near the start of the pursuit, what looks like a muzzle flash captured on an ODOT camera that police say occurred while what sounds like a gunshot was captured on body-cam.

You can the body camera footage in the player below:

Police release video of Jayland Walker shooting

When Walker's vehicle slowed down, he jumped out of the passenger side door wearing a ski mask and fled from police. It was during this foot chase that Walker's movements "caused the officers to perceive he posed a deadly threat to them," and they opened fire in response, striking him.

The entire incident lasted just minutes.

Walker's body had 46 bullet entrance and graze wounds, according to an autopsy by Summit County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler. Kohler said the specific injuries he sustained when he was shot by police included:

  • Five of the 46 wounds entered the back of his body; the findings cannot indicate if they were sustained while Walker was running or turning around. Forty-one bullets entered on the front and sides.
  • 15 gunshot wounds entered the torso, causing injury to the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, left kidney, intestines and multiple ribs.
  • 17 gunshot wounds were to the pelvis and upper legs, causing internal injury to the right iliac artery, a major artery to the leg, and the bladder. Walker’s pelvis and both upper leg bones were fractured.
  • One bullet struck Walker’s face, fracturing his jaw.
  • Eight gunshot wounds injured his arms and right hand.
  • Five gunshot wounds injured his knees and legs.
  • 26 bullets were recovered from the body.

It is still unknown exactly how many bullets were fired at Walker by the eight Akron police officers.

Kohler confirmed that Walker was handcuffed when his body was brought to the medical examiner’s office.

The cause of death was blood loss from internal injuries, with the cause of death ruling determined to be multiple gunshot wounds. The manner of death was ruled homicide — shot by others, and Kohler explained that is a medical ruling and not a legal conclusion.

The autopsy showed that at the time of Walker’s death, medical intervention and therapies for his injuries included tourniquets on his legs and left arm, gauze dressings to his chest and abdominal wounds, adhesive seals over two chest wounds and defibrillator pads used on his chest.

Legal battle sees more body camera footage released
Akron Police released the body camera footage from the incident on July 3, but the footage stopped after the shots were fired.

The Akron Beacon Journal spent two months in a legal battle to get the entirety of the body camera video from the city. In a letter to the city of Akron, dated Aug. 17, the paper states even though police did release some of the video within seven days of the city’s police camera ordinance, the released footage stops immediately after the officer’s use of force, stating, "Thereby omitting everything that happens afterwards."

The new video ABJ shared with News 5 was given to them by police.

It gives some insight into the evidence gathering and officers’ mindsets after the shots were fired.

You can watch more about the footage in the player below:

New Akron PD body cam footage shows moments after Jayland Walker shooting

In second set of shooting videos, the phrase "go blue" is heard before audio is muted. One police expert says the silence needs an explanation for transparency and accountability.

Watch police explain when and why officers can mute body camera video:

Akron police explain why some audio is muted in new Walker shooting video

The investigation
Walker's death is being investigated by Ohio BCI and members of the United Nations International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement.

Walker family attorney alleges possible collusion between BCI and Fraternal Order of Police
The attorney for Jayland Walker's family issued a call for a federal takeover of the investigation into the deadly police shooting. The attorney is leveling accusations of possible collusion.

Attorney Bobby DiCello said the evidence would include the statements made by the president of the Akron Fraternal Order of Police, Clay Cozart.

Cozart told News 5 Investigators that officers weren’t chasing Walker solely because of an equipment violation.

You can watch more about the allegations in the player below:

Jayland Walker family attorney alleges possible collusion between BCI and FOP

Why Akron Police aren't naming the officers involved
Mylett said the department wasn't naming the officers involved in Walker's shooting as a precautionary safety measure.

According to police, "bounties" had been placed on the involved officers and threats had been made. The chief said he authorized the officers under his command to forego wearing name tags.

However, they would still be required to wear badges and give their uniform numbers when asked.

Curfews put in place
Akron's first curfew was issued on the Fourth of July amid protests over the police shooting of Jayland Walker. The curfew was lifted on July 6 after no public safety concerns arose for two nights. It was put back in place when more protests followed and several people were arrested Downtown.

Those arrests included Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, a man who was shot by a Kenosha Police Officer seven times and left partially paralyzed. Bianca Austin, who is the aunt of Breonna Taylor, was also arrested. Taylor, who was employed as an EMT, was inside her home in Louisville, Kentucky when police conducted a “no-knock raid” on her home. Thinking the police officers were intruders, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at the police. Louisville Metro Police officers returned fire, striking and killing Taylor.

In total, seven people were arrested at the protest.

Twitter video of the protest shows the moment police officers arrested Blake Sr. "He's handicapped, that's Jacob Blake Sr. You know who that is, right?" a witness said in the video. The video also shows a protester being punched repeatedly by an Akron police officer while being held by several other officers.

Watch more about the protests in the player below:

Everything we know about about the protests in Akron Wednesday night

Protesters march to Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan's home
A group of over 50 protesters marched through the residential streets of Akron, right to the home of Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. They said their purpose was to bring their message directly to him.

Akron Police officers in riot gear formed a line on the street around Horrigan's house. Law enforcement also called in tactical vehicles before the short demonstration ended.

After the rally outside the mayor's home, the group marched its way south, chanting and calling for justice for Walker.

Watch more on the protests in the player below:

Protests over police shooting of Jayland Walker continue for 5th day in Akron

Biden remarks on Jayland Walker's shooting
During a trip to Cleveland in July to discuss his economic agenda, prior to the protests in the Akron later in the evening, President Joe Biden addressed the Akron Police shooting of Walker early in his speech, saying the Justice Department and FBI are monitoring the case, and said if the evidence reveals any violations of federal law, the Justice Department "will take the appropriate action."

"I want to make one serious comment about the shooting and death of Jaylen Walker. The Justice Department of Civil Rights Division of the FBI field office in Akron, Ohio, and the local US Attorney's Office are closely monitoring and reviewing what happened," Biden said. "The FBI continues to coordinate with state and local partners to provide resources and specialized skill. If the evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take the appropriate action. And I just want you to know what is going to happen."

NAACP calls on attorney general to probe killing of Jayland Walker
The NAACP made a direct plea to Attorney General Merrick Garland for the Justice Department to open a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Walker.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a letter to Garland that Walker -- who was unarmed when he was fatally shot -- was "executed by Akron, Ohio, police officers for a traffic violation." He called on Garland to immediately open a federal investigation and said the officers should be held accountable "to the fullest extent of the law."

An internal investigation to be conducted
According to Akron Police, the Office of Professional Standards and Accountability will conduct an internal investigation. The results of that investigation will be sent to Mylett and the police auditor for review.

CLICK HERE to read New 5's continuing coverage of Walker's death.

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