AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — An official with the Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge 7 told the FOX 8 I-Team the union has issued a no-confidence vote against Akron City Councilwoman At-Large Linda Omobien for stating at a recent council meeting that “Jayland Walker was murdered by police.”
“Our members are furious and very upset by these comments,” said FOP President Clay Cozart. “We had close to 100 members here Wednesday and the no-confidence vote was unanimous. We condemn her comment.”
Cozart said the eight officers involved in the shooting have not been criminally charged and the investigation is ongoing.
“No findings have been concluded in this case,” Cozart stated. “This comment is reckless, irresponsible, defaming, and could unlawfully influence a grand jury who will hear the case soon.”
In June, officers shot the 25-year-old Walker 46 times following a pursuit during which they claimed Walker fired a gun out of a vehicle. He later got out of the vehicle and fled on foot. Investigators later determined Walker left a gun and a loaded magazine in the vehicle.
Omobien made the comments during a Feb. 27 public safety committee meeting. She told the I-Team Thursday she was “completely surprised” by the FOP vote.
“I should have used the word killed. I was talking about how an unarmed man was shot numerous times and killed,” Omobien said. “I do believe what happened to this young man was wrong.”
She said the comment was made while discussing a candidate for the Citizens’ Police Oversight Board and she believes the FOP is trying to influence some council members not to vote for one candidate.
She said she is going to reach out to the police chief and ask to speak to officers to explain her statement.
Police Chief Stephen Mylett released the following statement:
“During the Akron City Council Public Safety committee meeting held on Monday, February 27th, Councilwoman Linda Omobien said in part, ‘The police murdered Jayland Walker.’ Omobien’s inflammatory remarks were brought to my attention on Tuesday, February 28th
“Upon being informed of Councilwoman Omobien’s comments and confirming for myself that remarks were made, I immediately began trying to reach out to her and other city leaders to communicate my dismay and disappointment with this unsolicited statement. Moments ago, Councilwoman Omobien contacted me to express her regrets about using the word ‘murder.‘ She said she wanted to correct the record and offered to speak directly to our officers.
“Let me be clear; I find the remarks irresponsible and reprehensible given that an independent investigation has yet to be concluded and the grand jury proceeding has yet to occur. While I am very disappointed with these divisive remarks, I appreciate that Councilwoman Omobien has offered to retract her statement accusing APD officers of committing murder and to make amends. Further, I am comforted in knowing that members of the police department work very hard every day to strengthen relationships with the community. Our combined efforts will pave the way for a stronger Akron and ultimately reinforce the partnership that will enable us to enhance public safety.“
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan also released a statement:
“All elected officials know their words matter and word choice is important. Councilwoman Omobien’s statement was irresponsible. I understand that she has since spoken with Chief Mylett. At a time when we are working diligently as a city and a community to improve police community relations, language such as this undermines that important work and creates further challenges to progress. We continue to ask our community for patience as the independent investigation into the death of Jayland Walker remains ongoing and we must all wait for a grand jury to ultimately hear the case and make a decision. I want to thank our law enforcement officers for the incredible work they do day in and day out to make Akron safer, and I look forward to all of us moving forward together.”