A special grand jury in Akron, Ohio, will begin hearing evidence this week to determine whether to bring charges against eight officers who shot a black man nearly four dozen times last year.
The death of Jayland Walker following an attempted traffic stop and pursuit on June 27 sparked days of protests and renewed discussions about the treatment of blacks during routine police encounters. Seven of the eight police officers who opened fire are white, authorities said.
After some demonstrations last year resulted in property damagebusinesses in the city have begun to cover up your windows before grand jury proceedings. While it’s unclear when the decision will be announced, the Summit County jury will sit on Monday, the city said.
Security has been increased around the Summit County Courthouse and steel barricades have been placed around the building. City Hall’s street-level windows are now covered by plywood, a city spokesman said, adding that officials have engaged religious leaders, business owners and community groups to «build the necessary dialogue.»
«While the boarded up windows will undoubtedly be the most visible signs of preparation, it is the ongoing conversations and relationship building that have undoubtedly been the most important preparation for what the grand jury decides,» the spokesperson said in a statement. release.
An alleged traffic violation
Akron police officers attempted to pull over 25-year-old Walker after an alleged traffic violation. They chased him when he didn’t stop, according to a statement from the Akron Police Department.
During that pursuit, officers «reported that a firearm was discharged from the suspect vehicle,» police said. They followed Walker’s car on a freeway for several minutes and then pursued him on city streets, according to the statement.
After her car slowed at one point, she exited through the passenger-side door as the car moved forward, according to authorities.
Authorities said they tried to stop Walker using stun guns and opened fire after the stun guns failed. Body camera footage released by the department showed several officers running after Walker while yelling orders for him to stop.
At one point, the officers appeared to stop running. In the video a hail of police shots is heard. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
During a video update, police said a handgun, loaded magazine and what appears to be a gold wedding ring were «in plain sight» in the driver’s seat of Walker’s car.
The body camera footage sparked protests in the city. A July 4th fireworks display was canceled and the mayor set a 9:00 pm curfew for downtown Akron after he said some of the demonstrations resulted in violence.
Walker was shot 46 times, says ME
Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler said in July that Walker had 46 entry wounds and abrasions. He died of blood loss from internal injuries caused by gunshot wounds. Kohler ruled his death a homicide.
Kohler said he suffered 15 gunshot wounds to his torso, 17 to his pelvis and upper legs, one to his face, eight to his arms and right hand, and five to his knees, lower leg right and the right foot.
«There are 46 entrance wounds. There are 15 exit wounds, and five of the wounds that would be inside the entrances are scratch wounds,» Kohler said at the time, calling his injuries «devastating.»
Five shots entered his back, the medical examiner said, but whether it was when he was running away or simply moving his body could not be determined.
The hail of gunfire caused injuries to Walker’s heart, lungs, and right iliac artery. She said that she could not determine if a specific bullet killed him.
A toxicology screen found no evidence of drugs or alcohol.
The Akron chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police said last year that it believed investigators would find the officers’ actions and number of shots justified.
«The officers reasonably believed that Mr. Walker posed an immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death and lawfully…discharged their weapons,» the statement said.
Walker was ‘heartbroken’ by of the fiancée death
In the months leading up to his death, Walker had been trying to get over the death of his fiancée, Jaymeisha Beasley. The two began dating when they were 15 and became engaged a year before Walker’s death, Beasley’s mother, Shalesa Beasley, said.
She said Walker and his fiancée were inseparable and «had a great relationship.» The two had just begun discussing wedding plans and were in the process of buying a home together when Beasley was killed in a hit-and-run on May 28 in southwestern Ohio’s Warren County.
Shalesa Beasley said she was traveling to Kentucky with Beasley and her other daughter when a truck rear-ended their pickup.
Beasley, 27, who was sleeping in the back seat and not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the van onto the road. He died after an oncoming vehicle struck her, Shalesa Beasley said.
She said Walker was «heartbroken» and appeared to have been trying to move on with his life. Robin Elerick, Walker’s cousin, said at his funeral that she was going through a «very, very difficult time» in the weeks before his death, recalling moments when they sat in silence «holding hands and crying.»
Who are the officers?
The names of the eight officers have not been released. They were placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting, but returned to duty in administrative roles in October.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett cited staffing shortages when announcing the decision.
Mylett said she understood the move would be upsetting to some people. She said the officers will not be in the community on patrol and will instead «provide internal support in non-uniform roles until the investigation is complete.»
Lawyers for Walker’s family called the move callous.