AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — A scathing letter addressed to the Akron police chief signed by more than 40 Akron pastors and community leaders, including the Akron NAACP, condemns the decision to reinstate eight officers still under investigation for the shooting death of Jayland Walker.
The letter accuses Chief Steve Mylett of publicly misrepresenting clergy support to bring the officers back from paid leave — a claim Mylett called confusing and deeply disappointing.
“Reinstating Jayland’s alleged killers is traumatic enough, but you have also falsified your conversations with our respected spiritual and community leaders,” the clergy letter stated. “Your dishonesty about your interaction with clergy and other community leaders only serves to undermine their stature in the community they serve.”
An autopsy report confirmed Walker was shot 46 times in June. His death and ongoing investigation continue to be the center of community outrage.
Mylett said eight officers returned from paid leave Oct. 10 and were reassigned to desk duty. The chief said the decision to bring the officers back amid the investigation was due to a “crisis” in staffing levels that could have resulted in services being cut.
During an interview with FOX 8 earlier this month, Mylett said: “I didn’t make this decision in a vacuum. … I have two advisory councils, one that are made up of community leaders, and the other that are made up of pastors and others in the religious community; and independent of each other, I laid the situation down to them and explained to them the option and the consensus was this decision was the right decision.”
Pastor Robert DeJournett of Saint Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ is a relative of Walker’s father and an Akron pastor who signed the letter.
“It’s like a dagger, right? Every time we hear something, even the different narratives that are being created, of course it’s devastating. Devastating,” said DeJournett. “We don’t want this to really go away. This has devastated not only our family but the community. You can see there’s a sharp divide in our community.”
Mylett said the letter received Monday was an inaccurate portrayal of conversations with his advisory councils. He said nearly “90 percent” of individuals who signed their names were not present during discussions.
“While I believe it is every citizen’s right to air their grievances with the elected and appointed officials, to do so in a way that includes dishonest is irresponsible and harmful,” the chief stated.
Mylett said he stands by his decision to reinstate the officers.
“We want our community to heal but it works on both sides, the community side and the city side, the police side,” said DeJournett.