Akron Police, prosecutor, and pastors hold ‘community conversation’ promoting peace

Grand jury to be set in place April 10th for Jayland Walker case
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 11:10 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A community conversation was held Wednesday night at the New Hope Baptist Church in Akron.

About 100 people who live in the city, joined Akron’s Police Chief, the city’s lead prosecutor, and local pastors to talk about the next phase in the deadly Jayland Walker police shooting investigation. A case Chief Mylett immediately turned over to Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to avoid any appearance of impropriety. The Chief tells 19 News this is the first time in the city’s history that they have not investigated their own case, but he says an outside agency was necessary.

Chief Steve Mylett tells 19 News the goal of the “Community Conversation” was to promote peace and understanding in the community, as the Attorney General expects to impanel a grand jury on April 10th in Summit County to hear evidence in the deadly police shooting of Jayland Walker.

Testimony in the grand jury presentation is expected to take about one week, and then the grand jury will decide whether or not to charge the officers involved, Akron’s Chief Prosecutor Craig Morgan told those gathered, “I can tell you from everything I now in this matter that all 8 officers are being presented to the grand jury, and I can’t even say what kind of result that could end up being. They could indict all 8 officers, or they could indict just two officers, or they could decide not to indict anyone, a no bill.”

But, out of a flurry of questions from residents, one woman in the crowd was clearly skeptical, saying, “This seems like we’re being put on notice. Y’all basically letting us know, and prepping us they will not be charged.”

Chief Mylett was adamant that is not the case, saying they have no idea what the outcome of the state’s investigation will be. They just want to educate the community about how the process will work.

Sergeant Mike Murphy with the Akron Police Department then told the group that there will also be an internal affairs investigation for use of force involving all eight officers, and that probe will be conducted whether or not the officers face any criminal charges in Walker’s death.

Currently, the unnamed officers are working at the department. They have been pulled from patrol until the outcome of the investigation is complete.

Several people in the audience wanted to know when the officer’s names will finally be known. The chief never released them initially saying officers and their families were receiving threats. Chief Mylett says if the officers are indicted, their names will be made public along with their charges and it will all be posted on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

But, one woman named Miss Vaughn, who also lost a loved one to a deadly police shooting in Akron stood up, questioning the creditability of grand jury investigations, “Don’t let them fool you please Akron, because no matter what comes out of this grand jury it’s going to be hell for you all because if they clear all of these officers, you know what you got coming.”

Police bodycam video that was released just days after the Walker shooting sparked outrage and protests in the city, and at one point protests escalated to violence that cause damage to a number of area businesses.

The Chief also informed residents about their right to peacefully protest, but he said if unlawful protesting occurs the police will have to step in to keep everyone safe.

More community conversation meetings are scheduled over the next few weeks.