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In wake of Tyre Nichols case, pastor says many in community believe Jayland Walker decision already made

Pastor and law professor react to brutal beating in Memphis
Jayland Walker
Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 30, 2023

AKRON, Ohio — While it took less than a month to decide whether to charge the officers involved in the Tyre Nichols death, people in Akron have been waiting seven months for a decision in the Jayland Walker case.

One Akron pastor says while they wait, people believe nothing will happen and the credibility in the system is lost.

A poster on an Akron light pole illustrates what the community has been calling for since June 2022. It reads "Justice for Jayland Walker."

"If they would have given the identities, continue to police as usual, I think the community would accept this long, in-depth investigation easier,” Pastor R. Stacey Jenkins said.

Jenkins, with House of Prayer for All People Church, says he watched the Memphis videos released Friday of officers beating Tyre Nichols.

"I just cried, and it just broke my heart to hear him call for his mother,” Jenkins said.

Memories of the Walker case came quickly to mind.

"Because of the excessive force," Jenkins said.

Nearly two weeks after Nichols’ death, Memphis police announced it fired five officers. All have been charged with murder.

Just today, a sixth officer was relieved of duty.

"Black officers on a Black suspect— so quickly released— I don't want to believe that, but perception is people's reality and that's what people are saying,” Jenkins said.

Seven months have passed since eight Akron officers shot and killed Walker.

The officers had been on administrative leave but were reinstated last October.

The police chief pointed to a staffing crisis for the move.

It could be April or longer before the case goes to a Summit County grand jury.

"We're still waiting, and that's the saddest part about it,” Jenkins said.

“For officer cases, there seems to be a perception, at least, that the investigation is slow-walked,” said Case Western Reserve University law professor Michael Benza.

Benza says that creates tension and further animosity between the people involved and the police.

“I think the easy explanation, but not necessarily the right explanation, is that the evidence in Memphis was so clear that what the officers did was so bad and so wrong that it didn't take an investigation to reach the decision 'we're going to go forward,'” Benza said.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office told News 5 the Walker case is complex as they try to sync all cameras for every possible perspective.

"The people here, many in the community, feel that a decision is already made and what we're going through is just a formality,” Jenkins said.

Professor Benza says what needs to happen aside from the investigations is to completely reconfigure how society sees policing.

Benza says the biggest part of that would be how to effectively train officers for their regular day to day activities.

RELATED: One shooting, 13 perspectives: Breaking down Jayland Walker shooting body-worn video released by Akron Police

News 5's Jordan Vandenberge synced the body camera footage of all 13 officers involved in the Jayland Walker shooting in July 2022. View those videos below.

Viewer discretion is advised.

All 13 Body Worn Camera videos -- plus nine in immediate shooting area
All 13 Body Worn Camera videos synced -- showing action entirely

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