AKRON, Ohio — Reaction has come just hours after the announcement by the Akron Police Department that it has reinstated the eight officers who fatally shot Jayland Walker.
Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett revealed that the officers have been reassigned to "administrative duty." They will not be in the community on patrol, but will provide internal support in non-uniform roles until the investigation is complete. Each of the officers had been placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting and had remained in that status for over three months.
"We recognize that this decision will cause concern for the Walker family and the community, and we are sensitive to those concerns," Mylett stated in the release announcing the decision.
The attorneys for the Walker family, Ken Abbarno and Bobby DiCello, released the following statement in response on Tuesday evening.
"The planning behind the decision to reinstate the police officers involved in this summer’s tragic killing of Jayland Walker is callous and ignores the Walker family’s needs for a fair process.
The decision to reinstate these officers – even to desk duty – fails to take into account a pending investigation into their actions that culminated in Jayland’s brutal shooting and unjustifiable death resulting from a barrage of more than 90 bullets. This decision undermines the legitimacy of the investigative process the Walker family has been asked to follow and which BCI has led to this point. On behalf of the Walker family, we call on the City of Akron to do the right thing and place the officers back on leave until the investigation has been completed.”
The Freedom BLOC (Black Led Organizing Collaborative) also weighed in on the decision to reinstate the eight Akron police officers.
"This is unacceptable, and our community is outraged," The Freedom BLOC wrote in a statement. "The day after the Akron community came together to call for Justice for Jayland Walker and marched for unity, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett made the decision to allow the eight officers involved in Jayland Walker’s murder back to work. That is the exact opposite of what the Walker family and our community have been demanding for the past 106 days."
You can read the entire response from The Freedom BLOC below:
Amid concerns about how the community might react to reinstating the eight officers, Mylett says the department has dealt with challenges of short staffing over the past several months. The shortages have resulted in fewer officers responding to calls for service, which have "strained" the department's patrol shifts.
Mylett and other members of the Akron Police Department's leadership consulted with various community leaders and "other stakeholders" in the past few weeks. According to APD, the consensus of the conversations was that reinstating the officers would "provide needed relief and support to ensure there are no interruptions in the services" provided to the community.
The shooting happened in the overnight hours of June 27 amid a chase. Police say Walker had fired a shot at one point during the vehicle pursuit, but was unarmed at the time officers opened fire when the chase was continued on foot. A gun was later found in Walker's vehicle, according to police.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is continuing their review of the incident. Once the BCI's investigation is complete, the case will be submitted to the Summit County Grand Jury for evaluation.
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