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After Tyre Nichols' death, Akron community members continue call for justice for Jayland Walker

 A curfew was called into place on Monday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. after protests erupted over the deadly shooting of Jayland Walker by eight Akron police officers. Mayor Dan Horrigan also enacted a state of emergency.
Jenn Kidd
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Akron City Council is moving forward with implementing police reform measures approved by voters after the police shooting death of Jayland Walker and in the light of another death of a Black man at the hands of police.

Community members in Akron are continuing the call for justice for Jayland Walker after the police killing of a Black man in Memphis this month.

Footage of Memphis police brutally beating Tyre Nichols was released on Friday and hit close to home for Akron residents still mourning the loss of Walker. Walker, who was Black, was fatally shot by police in June following a car and subsequent foot chase. The investigation into the shooting foudn that he was unarmed at the time.

Councilmember Russ Neal said Akron should follow Memphis’ lead in releasing the names of the officers involved in these deaths. Neal said the community cannot heal from the death of Walker until the officers are held accountable.

"Folks are traumatized and can't even begin to heal, and I can't even imagine how the Walker family feels when they see this," Neal said. "It's time for the mayor and the chief safety officer of the city to call for those officer's jobs and for their names to be released."

The eight officers involved in the shooting of Walker have been back on administrative duty since October.

This discussion comes as council is preparing to implement police reform measures passed by voters following Walker's killing.

Civilian police oversight board logistics
Before Akron can create a new civilian police oversight board approved by voters in November, City Council must repeal another board it created at the request of Mayor Dan Horrigan in September.

Council’s Public Safety Committee heard remarks Monday from the mayor’s office on an ordinance to do that, and another that, according to Assistant Law Director Brian Angeloni, would clarify logistics, such as how members will be selected and how long they’ll serve.

“This is basically filling in those gaps, talking about the vacancies, how they’re filled, you know who’s going to serve a two-year term versus four," Angeloni said.

Next week both the mayor's and council’s selections for the board are set to be announced. Council is appointing six members, and the mayor is appointing three.

Council is also expected to vote on the ordinances next week.

Dash cams
Akron may equip its front-line police cruisers with dash cams this summer.

The Public Safety Committee on Monday also forwarded an ordinance authorizing dash cam purchases to the full council for consideration next week.

If the ordinance passes, not all police cruisers will get dash cams, Captain
Agostino Micozzi said.

“There are 24 frontline patrol cars that patrol the city, two in each district, and then we have two wagons," Micozzi said. "We’re going to put these in the wagons as well.”

If approved, the city would enter into a five-year contract with Axon Enterprises for $334,680. The first two years of the contract would be funded through the nearly $5 million grant the police department recently received from the state to prevent violent crime.

"Our intention with Axon is to begin the rollout of these in June of this year," Micozzi said. "That's barring any problems with supply chains, but they have shared with us that's probably the quickest we can start installing these in the cars."

Akron police used to have dash cams, but after implementing a bodycam program, it couldn't fund both. Residents and activists began calling for dash cams to be reinstated after the death of Walker.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media. A Northeast Ohio native and lifelong listener of public radio, Abigail started in public radio as a news intern at WKSU. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Kent State University.