AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Sources tell the FOX 8 I-Team that a special grand jury in Akron hearing evidence in the Jayland Walker investigation has wrapped up for the day and is expected to continue their consideration of the case on Monday.
The I-Team has also learned that while the eight officers involved in the June 2022 shooting death of Jayland Walker are not expected to testify before the grand jury, other officers who were at the scene that early morning are expected to take the stand.
Meanwhile, Walker’s family and the pastor of their church have a message of peace and hope, as they await the decision by the grand jury on whether the eight officers will face criminal charges.
A message on an electronic billboard in front of Saint Ashworth Temple has a photo of Walker with the caption, “Peace is the absence of violence, but our voices will be heard.”
“There’s a narrative out there that there’s going to be all this doom and gloom and as people of faith, we are holding onto our faith and believing in divine intervention. That’s what we live by,” said the church’s pastor, Rev. Robert DeJournett. “I don’t want us to confuse peace as not being able to voice our opinions and give people a chance to do that in the way that they know how, as long as it’s non-violent.”
The pastor says Walker’s family is hopeful that the grand jury process will provide justice, but it is also stirring painful memories.
“It’s like an open wound that has just been opened and you put a band-aid over it and then you rip it. With Trauma never goes away, so they’re going to relive this terrible thing that has happened,” said Rev. DeJournett.
While no one can say what the grand jury’s decision might be, many downtown Akron businesses and organizations are not taking any chances and are preparing for potential unrest.
“They have boarded up. They’re afraid, right? They’ve been through this before and they’ve had to spend a lot of money to make repairs.” Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville said.
Sommerville is among community leaders who are urging Akronites to remain calm, no matter what decision is reached by the grand jury.
“You know emotions are high, you know we’re frustrated, you know there’s a lot of things that we don’t understand, but we have to make sure that we remain peaceful,” she said.
In a letter sent to families, Akron Public Schools laid out some class changes next week ahead of the grand jury decision.
“Our downtown schools (STEM High School, NIHF STEM, and Akron Early College) will be receiving the necessary information from their principals as needed. For now, Akron Early College will have a calamity day Monday, April 17, as the university has closed the Polsky building. Akron Early College scholars will still need to report to the UA campus for their college-level courses as directed by the university. Again, more specific instructions for this will be given to Akron Early College families by the school’s principal,” the letter said, in part.
The district says it will be monitoring the situation closely and keep families up-to-date.