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Akron Police Chief: Internal investigation into Walker shooting could be done by end of summer

 Akron's police chief, Steve Mylett, gives remarks during luncheon
Anna Huntsman
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett gives remarks during a First Friday Club of Greater Akron luncheon on Friday, June 2, 2023.

The Akron Police Department could wrap up its internal investigation into the killing of Jayland Walker by the end of this summer, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said Friday.

The department is currently reviewing evidence from the night of the shooting, he said.

Mylett will then evaluate the findings and make the final determination of whether officers should face any discipline for fatally shooting Walker.

“I’m not going to rush through this. It’s too important,” Mylett said. “We’ve got to make sure we get it right.”

A grand jury declined to indict the officers on criminal chargesback in April.

Mylett spoke with Ideastream Public Media following an appearance as the featured speaker for the First Friday Club of Greater Akron. The luncheon was held at Our Lady of Cedars Catholic Church in Fairlawn.

During his speech, Mylett said he is considering some policy changes for the department in the aftermath of the shooting.

One possible change could be to the car chase policy, he said.

Officers pursued Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, after he failed to pull over for a broken tail light in the early hours of June 27, 2022, according to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)’s investigation into the shooting. Eight officers shot and killed Walker as he fled from his car following the chase. He was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Officers also said they recognized his car from police chase in a different jurisdiction the night before. That pursuit was called off for safety reasons, according to BCI special investigators.

Akron activists and community leaders have called for police to no longer pursue individuals for fleeing routine traffic stops.

“I’m not prepared to say what changes we’ll make yet, but I do think that there’s areas for improvement with the pursuit policy,” Mylett said. “The community has been very direct that they want me to look at it, and we are.”

There have also been calls for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the Akron Police Department’s patterns and practices. Congresswoman Emilia Strong Sykes, whose district includes Akron, has also asked the Justice Department to step in.

Mylett declined to say whether he thinks a federal investigation into his department is needed.

“If the decision is made to have the DOJ come in and look at us, we will cooperate fully, and we will listen,” Mylett said.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.