AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – A community meeting got fiery at times as Akron police explained procedures and answered questions as a grand jury prepares to hear the case of Jayland Walker.
Walker was shot 46 times by Akron police officers last summer after a police chase, which caused weeks of protests and unrest.
Agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are handling the probe into the eight officers who fired the bullets that killed Walker.
The investigation is complete and on April 10, a grand jury is expected to hear testimony on whether or not the officers should be charged.
In the meantime, Akron police are meeting with residents as they prepare for what they say could be challenging days ahead.
“How did it take so long to charge?” asked one resident during the meeting.
“I was expecting this to take a little longer because there were so many officers involved, but while it seems like this is a long period of time, they are digging through a ton of evidence, they’re interviewing people,” answered Akron police chief Steve Mylett.
Chief Mylett answered questions from city residents at a community meeting inside New Hope Baptist Church.
The police department and city prosecutors are holding sessions, hoping to educate residents about the grand jury process in the police-involved killing of 25-year old Walker last June.
“It could be eight officers are indicted and charged. It could be eight officers are… no billed and not charged, or it could be a mix,” said Akron chief city prosecutor Craig Morgan.
Officers say Walker fired at them while driving. A weapon was found on his car seat, but he was unarmed when he was shot.
“On one night, we saw riots in downtown Akron. We can’t see a repeat of that. Again, trying to prepare the community, share information wit the community. Hopefully it’s going to lead to more peaceful protests where we don’t see violence,” said Chief Mylett.
Akron police outlined their use of force policies and rules for lawful protests, but they emphasized they have no clue what the grand jury will decide or when they will make a decision.
“Akron has been very patient. When you compare us to Columbus, Memphis, Tennessee and other areas where the officers’ names have been released, at what point will those names be released?” asked another resident.
“If an officer is indicted, their name will be released. If the Attorney General has made the determination, I believe, that there are no indictments, then they are not charged individuals. Their names will not be released,” answered the chief.
“If they clear all these officers, you know what you’ve got coming and if they put all these officers under criminal charges, then you’re going to have to hand them over to the whole lie. Justice for Jayland!” yelled an angry resident, who claimed Akron police killed one of her relatives.
Akron officials say the process of presenting evidence to the grand jury could take about a week, but it is unclear how long the jury will deliberate before deciding whether to file charges.
Chief Mylett says he is not releasing the names of the officers now due to safety concerns.
Akron police plan to hold several more meetings over the next several weeks.