Family Sues Akron and 8 Officers Who Shot Jayland Walker

Family Sues Akron and 8 Officers Who Shot Jayland Walker

Months after a grand jury declined to indict eight police officers in Akron, Ohio, who shot dead Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, his family is seeking at least $45 million in a federal lawsuit – $1 million for each bullet that hit him, the lawsuit says.

The case, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, says that excessive force was used, and sues eight officers, the City of Akron, Mayor Daniel Horrigan and Police Chief Stephen Mylett, alleging systemic misconduct and failures in the department.

Neither the police chief nor the mayor could be immediately reached by Reuters. A spokeswoman for the city told the Akron Beacon Journal that there would be no comment on the litigation from the city.

In a press conference on Friday, Bobby DiCello, the family’s attorney, said that the lawsuit will begin to tell the “true story” of what happened to Walker that night.

“Jayland Walker’s death has been mischaracterized as his fault,” DiCello said.

The officers pursued Walker on foot after an attempted traffic stop in June 2022 and shot him dozens of times, including five times in the back, police officials said.

Police opened fire after mistakenly thinking Walker reached into his waistband for a gun, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said during an April briefing to announce the grand jury’s decision.

“Only then did the officers fire believing Mr. Walker was firing again at them,” said Yost, whose office was asked by local prosecutors to investigate the shooting.

Earlier, while driving his car with officers in pursuit, Walker had fired at least one shot at them, but he left the gun in the car when he fled on foot, Yost said.

State law allows officers to use deadly force against a deadly threat to themselves or others, he added.

Walker’s death garnered national attention and roiled the city amid heightened tensions with police over the killing of another Black man, after a spate of such deaths across the United States.

This week, police in Minneapolis came under federal oversight after a Department of Justice (DOJ) review found routine use of excessive force against Black and Native American people, ending a two-year investigation prompted by the police killing of George Floyd.

In March, the DOJ found similar problems in the Louisville, Kentucky, police department, following the 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Walker’s mother, Pamela Walker, attended the press conference, breaking down in tears as she hugged her attorneys. She declined comment to Reuters when reached later by telephone.

The city has not released the names of the officers involved in Walker’s shooting. A media lawsuit seeking the names of the officers is pending before the Ohio Supreme Court.