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What does the BCI investigation into Jayland Walker's death show?


What would cause a young man with no criminal history and no previous run-ins with law enforcement to act so out of character by evading a traffic stop and firing a gun with police in pursuit?

That’s what investigators for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) tried to figure out during a 10-month investigation into the death of Jayland Walker, the 25-year-old killed by Akron police on June 27 after a car and foot chase.

On Monday, Ohio Attorney General (AG) Dave Yost announced that a special grand jury had declined to criminally charge the eight officers who fired the shots that killed Walker and released an investigative report on the case.

Ideastream Public Media is in the process of reviewing the thousands of pages of BCI reports, photos and video related to the case. But a 227-page prosecutor summary shows investigators trying to understand what lead up to Walker’s death.

The focus of the investigation: Did Jayland Walker commit suicide by cop?

Did Jayland Walker want to die?

The summary paints a picture of a young man in the throes of grief and a family trying to help him cope.

Family and friends said Walker was grieving his fiancée Jaymeisha Beasley, 27, who was killed in a car crash near Cincinnati on May 28. The summary shows his loved ones were worried about him and trying to help him cope.

Walker googled “what happens when you drink bleach” and “quickest way to die,” the summary shows.

He sent several messages to Beasley’s cell phone after her death.

But the google searches and text messages are not definitive.

Walker also googled “how much is a one way ticket to africa” and made plans to buy a house, the summary showed. When investigators asked his mother and sister whether they thought he was suicidal, both said no.

The records also show that investigators spoke with Walker’s best friend Dupri Whatley, a jailer with Summit County. Whatley had applied for a job at the Euclid Police Department and was interviewed two days after Walker was killed.

During the interview, Euclid police said Whatley told them his friend had just been killed by Akron police and had asked him how he could get police to shoot him.

Euclid Capt. Mike Jason said Whatley told him about Walker after he was asked why he hadn’t applied for a job with Akron police.

“He [Whatley] just went into a discussion about his best friend, like I said he got, a little emotional which is understandable and ahh, he’s like, “But I’m telling you this was a suicide by cop, and I’m totally on Akron P.D.’s side even though it’s my best friend.

But again the investigation did not bring certainty.

When investigators interviewed Whatley, he denied telling Euclid police Walker asked him about how to get police to shoot him.

“No, he never, I never said that. I said that Jayland knew, knew better. But I never said them words. I just said I don't, I don't know what was going on,” he said.

Walker never mentioned suicide, Whatley told investigators.

“They asked me, do I think it was suicide by cop. I said, I don't know. All I know is he was going through some things, and he said a few words. And I told him, like, hey, you gotta resources at work, and I can get you in touch with, if you want to just come to my house to just sit, we can sit. We don't even gotta talk to each other. We could just sit. I just told him that he wasn't acting himself, his normal self.”

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 9-8-8, or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.