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Grand jury declines to charge 8 Akron police officers who fatally shot Jayland Walker

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The eight officers in Akron, Ohio, involved in the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker will not be indicted. Walker was a 25-year-old Black man. He was wounded 46 times by police fire after a car and foot chase last summer. Police say he fired a gun while driving.

Anna Huntsman of Ideastream Public Media has been following this case and joins us now with an update. Hi, Anna.

ANNA HUNTSMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: So what was the grand jury's conclusion in this case that led them not to indict the officers? Do we know?

HUNTSMAN: Right. So this was a special grand jury made up of residents from throughout Summit County, essentially concluding that the officers were legally justified in their actions. Now, that's all according to the Ohio attorney general, Dave Yost. He talked during a press conference today. So what this means is there will be no criminal charges from the state level. The investigation is over at the state level. And they also went over some evidence that was found as to why this decision kind of was - they came to this decision. And a lot of it had to do with the fact that, as you mentioned, Walker fired a gun during the car chase.

There is a snapshot of a muzzle flash, and there was a gun recovered in his car, but he was unarmed at the time when he was on a foot chase and officers opened fire. Evidence shows that he, during this foot chase, motioned toward his waistband and turned toward the officers. And so essentially, the grand jury determined that the officers had reason to believe they were in danger at this point and were legally justified in using force.

And I also want to say, aside from just going over this evidence, something that was kind of interesting is the attorney general, and also the special prosecutors that presented this case, took questions from the press and actually commented on Walker's mental state. They said there was no evidence that this was an act of suicide by cop, but they did say Walker was going through a tough time. Walker's fiance had passed away about a month before this happened in a car accident. They said Walker was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. He had no criminal record. He was not acting like himself that night.

CHANG: Well, have you heard anything from the family or others about the lack of indictments here?

HUNTSMAN: Oh, absolutely. As soon as this was announced, you know, my email inbox blew up with different press releases. I will say that the family's legal counsel just spoke in a press conference this evening, saying Walker's family is understandably heartbroken by the news.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

BOBBY DICELLO: I wish you could have been in the home about 4:30 p.m. when I broke the news to the family. I wish you could have heard and felt and seen the screams. They were screaming.

HUNTSMAN: And at the same time, the mayor also held a press conference, pushing for safety in the protests. The police chief was there as well and said now the police department is going to do an internal investigation to see if its own policies were violated, if any need to be modified. I will say there are protests already planned - a march planned tomorrow.

CHANG: Right.

HUNTSMAN: A key point here is - real quick to wrap up - they will not release the names of the officers, they decided, due to safety concerns.

CHANG: That is Anna Huntsman, reporter with Ideastream Public Media in Akron. Thank you so much, Anna.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anna Huntsman IPM