AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – The president of Akron’s police union says he is not backing down and not apologizing for speaking out about officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jayland Walker.
Clay Cozart, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge 7, says he strongly disagrees with statements made by the attorney representing Walker’s family.
Attorney. Bobby DiCello said Wednesday that they are calling for a federal investigation of the fatal police involved shooting of Walker. DiCello said there may be collusion between agents of the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FOP. BCI is investigating the shooting death of Walker.
Officials with BCI and the FOP deny that allegation.
“It is such a ludicrous statement for an attorney with a law license to make,” Cozart said. “I understand he is grandstanding and trying to control the narrative but that is an irresponsible statement for him to make.”
Cozart said there is “absolutely no“ collusion. He added, however, that the officers are all fully cooperating with the investigation and all eight officers have given statements.
“Once the investigation is over, it then goes to the attorney general’s office and then to the grand jury,” Cozart said. “The grand jury will make the final decision.”
The union president says it is his job to represent the officers. He spoke out to the I-Team last Friday to correct what he called false information.
“It was this false narrative repeated by many people over and over that Mr. Walker’s vehicle was pulled over for a minor equipment violation and that is untrue,” Cozart said.
He said officers first came across Walker’s vehicle in the Howard Street area near Tallmadge Avenue.
“The officers noticed he did have that equipment violation,” Cozart said. “Mr. Walker did not stop. He got to that entrance area of Route 8, and Mr. Walker turned onto that ramp, and the officers let him go because they did not want to pull him over for an equipment violation.”
Cozart said the officers then returned to the area on Howard Street and a few minutes later they spotted Walker’s car again.
“This is a high crime area,” Cozart said. “It is near an area where a homicide occurred outside of a bar, so that rose their suspicion, why the car would return to the area. So they got behind it again and tried to stop him.”
The officers stated Walker refused to stop. They added that Walker fired a shot at them during the pursuit.
City officials have said Walker eventually fled from his vehicle wearing a mask. Officials also stated the officers reported Walker made a threatening move before they discharged their weapons.
Walker’s family and friends say he was not violent and had no prior issues with police.