A grand jury in Ohio has cleared eight police officers of wrongdoing in the shooting death of Jayland Walker, a Black man who was shot 46 times after a vehicle and foot chase in Akron last year. The decision has led to renewed calls for accountability for Walker’s killing and protests against alleged police misconduct. Judges or grand juries, which are randomly selected groups of citizens, need to approve criminal charges to bring suspects to trial in the United States.
On June 27, 2022, Akron police officers attempted to pull over Walker, 25, after a traffic violation. Walker fled in his car and officers gave chase for more than seven minutes, during which time they saw a firearm discharge from his vehicle. Walker then jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran. Officers caught up to him in a parking lot, where they opened fire when they perceived he posed a deadly threat to them. The autopsy conducted by Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler found that Walker had no drugs or alcohol in his system and a gun was found in his vehicle.
The Ohio branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for accountability after Monday’s decision and urged the city to move forward on measures promoting accountability of law enforcement. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said his office neutrally presented the evidence to the grand jury, which he described as a voice of the community. While describing the footage of the incident as grievous, Yost stressed that Walker had fired at police first.
The US has been grappling with issues of police brutality, particularly against Black citizens, for years. Last year, President Joe Biden promised that federal authorities would look into Walker’s killing.