AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — New video released Monday by state authorities shows the moments where they say Jayland Walker fired a gun from his vehicle during a police pursuit on the night he was shot and killed by eight Akron police officers.
It was also revealed that a shell casing found on the chase route was traced back to Walker’s gun.
Hundreds of other pieces of evidence including photos, interviews and videos were made public after Attorney General Dave Yost’s office announced Monday that a special grand jury chose not to pursue charges against those eight officers.
Officials also gave a more thorough timeline of events leading up to the shooting. Here’s a snapshot of what was discussed and released during the press conference:
Case files released
State prosecutor Anthony Pierson on Monday walked through the investigation. The case files were also published Monday on the attorney general’s website “for everyone to see,” Yost said.
Akron police spotted Walker’s 2005 Buick Century and noted it didn’t have a working license plate light, Pierson said. Dispatch records showed officers from another agency had pursued the car the night prior for the same minor traffic violation.
But Akron police didn’t pull the car over at that time.
Minutes later, police spotted the car back in the area of East Tallmadge Avenue and North Howard Street and attempted to stop Walker. Walker fled and fired at least one shot from the vehicle, Pierson said.
In the early hours of June 27, 2022, Walker was driving around the city. Cell phone records show his phone connecting to towers around the city.
“There is no indication that he is actually going anywhere in particular, but he is just driving in the area,” said Pierson. “He is driving in the same area where he was pulled over the night before.”
Camera captures gunshot
Cuyahoga Falls officer Jarrett Heatwall was stationed at an intersection when Akron police were pursuing Walker for the broken tail light. Officials said his camera caught the gunshot coming from Walker’s car.
” … While on the entrance ramp a sound of a gunshot came out and the Akron PD unit appeared to attempt to swerve away from the suspect vehicle’s line of fire,” wrote Heatwall in an incident report.
Officers then called a signal 21 — “the highest response level for Akron Police Department,” Pierson said — which called all available officers to assist.
Shell casing found on chase route
Officers recovered two shell casings from Walker’s gun — one inside his vehicle and another along state Route 8, where police claimed he fired from the car. The casings were traced back to Walker’s gun, which was found in the driver’s seat of his vehicle.
“There is no doubt that he did, in fact, shoot at the police officers,” Yost said, though he later told reporters that there is no conclusive evidence he was aiming toward them.
Prosecutors presented a receipt showing Walker bought the firearm and ammunition at a firing range on June 20, just days before the shooting. He was seen at a gun range nearly two weeks prior, firing guns with a friend.
“It is described in detail to [Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation] agents afterward during their investigation that Mr. Walker had very little to no familiarity with firearms and this was essentially his first time firing a gun,” Pierson said.
Walker’s actions after pursuit ends
The pursuit ended along Wilbeth Road. There, Walker can be seen on police camera footage wearing a ski mask as he gets out of the car. Though officers commanded Walker to stop and put his hands up, Mr. Walker ignores all those commands and continues to flee, Pierson said.
“Officers at this point in time do not know where the gun is,” he continued. “All they know at this time of the chase is that they have been shot at; they have followed Mr. Walker; he has bailed out of a vehicle with a ski mask on. They are not aware if the gun was on his person or somewhere else.”
Officers first tried to use non-lethal force to subdue Walker, Yost said.
At one point during the foot pursuit, Walker turned all the way around toward the officers. He can be seen on police video reaching into his waistband or into pockets. Footage stills then show him raising his arm out toward officers — but the lack of lighting makes it difficult to see if he’s carrying a weapon.
“At that point in time, he is shot by responding officers,” Pierson said. “The officers believed that Mr. Walker was a threat to them. They believed that he was a threat to themselves and other officers.”
The eight officers pursuing him said they perceived a threat and opened fire.
“Mr. Walker then reached for his waistband in what several officers described as a ‘cross-draw’ motion, planted his foot, and turned toward the officers while raising his hand,” Yost said. “Only then did the officers fire believing Mr. Walker was firing again at them. Although the officers did not know it at the time, Mr. Walker had left his recently purchased gun in his car.”
Each of the eight officers fired between 3 and 18 gunshots. Three officers emptied their magazines. Though some reloaded their weapons, they did not continue firing, Pierson said. Walker was still moving when the shooting stopped, he said.
Walker was shot in the head, torso, pelvis, legs, arms and knees, his autopsy showed. He was wounded more than 60 times.
Walker’s toxicology report showed no sign of drugs or alcohol.
Walker was a 25-year-old man with no prior criminal history, who worked as a delivery driver for DoorDash and UberEats and had previously worked for Amazon, Pierson said.
Pierson said authorities haven’t found any evidence that Walker intended to die by suicide in an engagement with police.
“It has been made public that Mr. Walker was going through a very tough time in his life,” Pierson said. “I think it’s been documented that Mr. Walker’s fiancee had died a short time before this had happened and he was going through a very tough time. He was hurting.
“By all accounts this was a good man, a good person, with no prior criminal record. He was not acting himself,” Pierson continued. “Other than that, I’m not willing to make a leap as to his intentions on that night.”
Grand jury evidence
Investigators presented to the grand jury evidence from more than 100 recorded interviews with the eight shooting officers and another 47 officers, witnesses and Walker’s friends and family, among others. Investigators served six search warrants and subpoenas, including for records on Walker’s car, cell phone and employment.
State investigators also collected more than 150 pieces of evidence from the scene. They also reviewed footage from dozens of body-worn and dashboard cameras, home surveillance systems and state transportation cameras.