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Akron prepares for special grand jury in Jayland Walker police shooting death

akron's municipal building
Akron City Hall
Akron City Council
Akron City Hall

A special grand jury will be seated next week in Akron with one purpose: consider the case against the eight Akron police officers involved in the shooting death of Jayland Walker last June and decide if any of those officers will face charges. The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation or BCI investigated the shooting. The case will be presented to the special grand jury by prosecutors from Attorney General Dave Yost’s office. The city has been preparing for weeks by holding meetings with community groups to explain how grand jury proceedings work and answer questions. This week the city also began boarding up public buildings such as City Hall, in anticipation of protests that may coincide with the grand jury’s decision. Downtown businesses are taking similar precautions.

The aftermath of the police shooting death of Jayland Walker and the outcome of the special grand jury proceeding will be issues for the next mayor of Akron.

The seven Democrats seeking to succeed Mayor Dan Horrigan debated for the first time Wednesday at Quaker Station. Ideastream Public Media, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Akron Press Club and Ohio Debate Commission put together the debate. Voters will decide among the candidates in the May 2 primary. No Republican qualified for the primary ballot.

Early voting for the May primary began this week. April third marked the registration deadline. This is the first election that will involve changes passed by the legislature and signed by Governor DeWine. Those changes including firming up the acceptable forms of identification a voter will need in order to cast a ballot in person. The law also shortens the timeframe that ballots can arrive at the boards of election, including military ballots from overseas. The changes went into effect April 7.

A new distracted driving law is now in effect statewide. .The new law makes distracted driving a primary offense, meaning police can stop you if they suspect you were violating the law by using your cell phone while driving. The law has enthusiastic backing from Governor Mike DeWine who says it will save lives. The Ohio State Highway Patrol says distracted driving has led to more than 60,000 crashes and 200 deaths in the last five years.

-Andrew Meyer, Deputy Editor for News, Ideastream Public Media
-Ken Schneck, Editor, The Buckeye Flame
-Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."