The eight officers who were involved in the shooting death of 27-year-old Jayland Walker have been reinstated to active duty, according to NBC News. Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett cited staff shortages as the reason for the decision. The officers, who have not been named, will not be on patrol in the city, but will “provide internal support in non-uniform roles until the investigation (of the shooting) is complete.”
Mylett said he and other police leaders had consulted “various community leaders” and other “stakeholders” before reinstating the officers.
“We recognize that this decision will cause concern for the Walker family and the community, and we are sensitive to those concerns,” the news release says. The eight officers, whose names have not been released, were on paid administrative leave for 3½ months.
This move will obviously cause some apprehension among the public and civil rights advocates. The Ohio Bureau of Crime Investigation and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office are looking into what happened that night.
Following a vehicle chase during a traffic stop on June 27th, Walker got out of his car and tried to escape on foot. The eight officers then fired their handguns, hitting Walker 46 times. Police claimed he reached for his waistband during the chase, but was not armed when he was shot. A gun and wedding ring were later found in the passenger seat of Walker’s car.
Freedom Bloc, a Black-led community group in Northeast Ohio, criticized the decision to return the 8 officers to active duty, especially considering that no conclusion was reached in the ongoing investigation.
“This is unacceptable, and our community is outraged,” the group said Tuesday night. “Instead of being held accountable, these eight police officers, shielded by anonymity, continue to get paid under the same department in which they were allowed to shoot and murder a Black man without repercussion. ...
“This is not justice for Jayland Walker. This is a flagrant injustice to Jayland, to his family, to our community, and to Black and brown people who are continuously harmed, abused, and killed by those sworn to serve and protect us.”