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Akron preparing for grand jury decision in police shooting of Jayland Walker

Demonstrators march in Akron on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, to call for justice for Jayland Walker, who was fatally shot by Akron Police in June 2022.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Demonstrators march in Akron on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, to call for justice for Jayland Walker, who was fatally shot by Akron Police in June 2022.

A Summit County grand jury is set to review evidence in the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker in April.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has been reviewing the incident for about nine months. Starting April 10, a special prosecutor from Attorney General Dave Yost’s office will present findings from the BCI investigation and review potential charges with the members of the jury, said Gert Wilms, chief of staff for Mayor Dan Horrigan and a former chief prosecutor for the city of Akron.

"They will be provided the body-worn camera, the autopsy. I wouldn't be shocked if maybe the coroner didn't come and testify,” Wilms said. “The BCI officers who did the investigation will come and testify.”

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh had previously requested that a special prosecutor from the attorney general's office handle the prosecution in this case, Wilms said.

The jury, which will be made up of nine members and three alternates, will then decide if any of the eight officers involved in the shooting should be indicted, she said.

Officers shot Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, after a car and foot chase June 27. Walker was wounded or grazed 46 times in the shooting, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s office. Officers say he fired a gun at them during the car chase, but he was unarmed when shot.

Walker’s death sparked protests and calls for police reform. After some protests in Downtown Akron turned destructive, the city imposed an overnight curfew.

Now, Akron officials are working to prepare the community for the grand jury’s decision, Wilms added. Wilms, other city officials and the police department are meeting with community groups to explain how the grand jury process works and are prepping for the aftermath of the decision.

Some groups are asking for the city’s support in potential protests, she said.

“Every meeting goes different on what the expectations are and what the community’s asking of us during this process,” Wilms said. “Some of it’s just the space – you know, we want that space to hold a demonstration, and understanding that and allowing that space to take place.”

Wilms also recently met with Downtown Akron business owners to discuss preparations for any protests or road closures.

A community conversation is open to the public next Wednesday at New Hope Baptist Church at 1706 S. Hawkins St. in Akron, she added.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.