AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — Representatives for the family of Jayland Walker are reacting to the Summit County grand jury’s decision to not bring criminal charges against eight Akron police officers who shot and killed him following an attempted traffic stop last summer.
The Walker family’s lawyer Bobby DiCello along with many others in the community were on hand Monday during a press conference asking for people to make their voices heard, while continuing to not condone violence.
“We’ve all been shaken by this decision,” DiCello said. “Nobody in this room tonight is happy … When I heard the chief of police say he wants no destruction, he wants no problems, he wants peace, he needs to hear the family of the Jayland has been destroyed, his body has been destroyed … Say what you need to say, and prove the city wrong.”
Attorneys for the family said they are already preparing and will soon be filing a civil lawsuit.
“Justice for Jayland today, tomorrow, next week, next year, I will not stop, our team won’t stop. Justice for Jayland Walker,” said Attorney Paige White.
Walker had more than 60 wounds found on his body, the medical examiner said.
All eight officers who had faced potential criminal charges said they had to use deadly force in the incident as 25-year-old Walker fired a bullet while he was fleeing from a traffic stop — a claim backed up by newly released footage Monday that showed the shot. A shell that matched Walker’s gun was also found, prosecutors said.
When Walker eventually left his car and ran, police later learned he left his weapon inside the vehicle.
U.S. Representative Emilia Strong Sykes (OH-13) also spoke at the press conference, echoing the sentiments of an earlier release, asking for the Department of Justice to start an investigation into the department:
“The safety and security of our neighborhoods requires trust between the community and the law enforcement officers who have taken an oath to protect and serve, but this trust has been violated and must be rebuilt. As such, I will formally request the Department of Justice to begin an investigation into the patterns and practices of the Akron Police Department to start the process of understanding how the department operates and look to create solutions for more community-focused policing that serves the needs of every segment of our community.
“Finally, as people begin to express their anger, grief, and concern through their Constitutional right to protest, I ask that you remember the words of Jayland’s family and honor his memory by protesting without violence. After the TV crews leave and the nation is no longer watching, it will only be us left to pick up the pieces. Our community deserves the chance to heal and move forward which we will do, must do — together.”
Akron’s NAACP also called for more police oversight, also asking for the abolishment of police chases for minor infractions.
“We are disappointed but not surprised with the grand jury decision not to indict. The killing of Jayland Walker requires accountability,” the organization said in a statement Monday. “In city after city, we see over policing by law enforcement lacking updated training and using outdated military tactics. This decision is only the beginning. It is the first step in recognizing the need for change.”
Last week, the Walker family’s pastor spoke with FOX 8, saying that he and the family are asking for peace in the wake of the decision.
“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,” Rev. Robert DeJournett told FOX 8. “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.”
More than 50 protestors assembled outside of St. Ashworth Temple Church of God in Christ in Akron Monday night, upset over the decision.