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The 8 Akron officers who shot Jayland Walker are back on active duty

Protesters calling for justice for Jayland Walker march down West Market Street in Akron on Friday, April 14, 2023.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Protesters calling for justice for Jayland Walker march down West Market Street in Akron on Friday, April 14, 2023.

The eight Akron police officers who fatally shot Jayland Walker last year are back on active duty, despite an ongoing internal review of the shooting, according to a police spokesperson.

In June 2022, officers fatally shot Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, after an attempted traffic stop that resulted in a car and subsequent foot chase. An investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation found that Walker fired a shot during the car chase but was unarmed when he was shot by police. 

The BCI investigation determined the officers fired 94 shots, wounding or grazing Walker 46 times.

A Summit County grand jury declined to indict the officers on criminal charges earlier this year. Akron Police spokesperson Capt. Michael Miller points to that decision, as well as the findings of the BCI investigation, as the main reason why the officers were brought back to active duty.

“There was no legal barrier, per se, to prevent them from coming back by way of the attorney general's review and, or, the grand jury,” Miller said.

After nearly a week of reviewing evidence from the BCI investigators, the grand jury concluded in April that the officers were legally justified in their actions and there was not enough credible evidence to suggest the officers could be charged with a crime.

The city did not announce when the officers returned to full-time active duty. They were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting in June 2022 but brought back a few months later on desk duty to help offset staffing challenges.

The department’s internal review of the shooting is wrapping up and expected to be released in November, Miller said. Investigators will determine whether the officers followed the police department’s policies and procedures.

“That internal investigation... is designed to look at some other aspects of... just what took place,” Miller added.

The Akron Police Department continues to face staffing challenges, which also contributed to the decision to reinstate the officers, he said.

Walker's family  filed an excessive force lawsuit against the city in federal court in June.

The office of the independent police auditor, which is overseen by the city’s new Citizens’ Police Oversight Board, will review the department’s internal investigation when it is released. Walker’s death renewed calls for police reform in Akron and voters passed a charter amendment creating the civilian oversight board last November.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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