Eight police officers who shot unarmed man 46 times cleared of wrongdoing
Eight police officers who killed an unarmed man after shooting him 46 times have been cleared of wrongdoing.
Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old black man, was killed after a car and foot chase in Akron, Ohio, last June.
His death sparked protests in the city after police released body camera footage showing his death in a hail of bullets.
Today, a grand jury declined to press charges against the officers, Ohio’s attorney general, Dave Yost, announced.
Fresh protests are expected in Akron following the grand jury’s decision.
Police said he had refused to stop when they tried to pull him over after a traffic violation.
They also say Mr Walker fired a shot first, letting off a round from his car 40 seconds into the pursuit.
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Officers chased the car on a freeway and city streets until Mr Walker jumped out of the still-moving vehicle.
He ignored officers’ commands to stop and ran into a car park where he was then killed while wearing a ski mask, body cam video showed.
Authorities said he represented a “deadly threat”. A handgun, a loaded magazine and a wedding ring were found on the driver’s seat of his car.
The police union said the officers thought there was an immediate threat of serious harm and that their actions were in line with their training and protocols.
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Mr Yost said Mr Walker took at least one shot at police from his vehicle and then, after jumping out of his car, he ignored commands to stop and show his hands.
“There is no doubt he did in fact shoot at police officers,” he added.
Mr Walker reached for his waistband as officers were chasing and raised his hand. The officers, not knowing he left his gun in the car, believed he was firing again at them, Mr Yost said.
Mr Yost said it was critical to remember that Mr Walker had fired at police, and that he “shot first”.
Police chased him for about 10 seconds before officers fired from multiple directions, a burst of shots that lasted six or seven seconds.
The eight officers, whose names have been withheld from the public, were initially placed on leave, but returned to administrative duties three and a half months after the shooting.
A county medical examiner said Mr Walker was shot 46 times. The post mortem also said no illegal drugs or alcohol were detected in his body.
Walker’s death received widespread attention from activists, including from the family of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a lawyer for Mr Walker’s family called on the justice department to open a federal civil rights investigation.
President Joe Biden responded during a trip to Ohio last summer by saying the department was monitoring the case.
Less than 24 hours before the chase, police in neighbouring New Franklin Township had tried to stop a car matching Mr Walker’s, also for unspecified minor traffic violations.
A supervisor there called off the pursuit when the car crossed the township’s border with Akron.
Mr Walker’s family called it a brutal and senseless shooting of a man who was unarmed at the time and whose fiancee recently died.