Akron DSA denounces grand jury decision in Jayland Walker case
April 17, 2023
The Akron chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) denounces the decision of the special grand jury in question to not indict the eight officers of the Akron Police Department (APD) who killed Jayland Walker last year on June 27, 2022. We furthermore denounce the current state of affairs, in Akron and across the entire United States, where police continue to have the power to murder people–especially Black and working-class people–with near-impunity; where police continue to assume the role of judge, jury, and executioner in people’s streets, communities, and homes; and where our current institutions continue to be unable to defend us against police violence.
On the aforementioned date, Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by APD officers while fleeing from the officers on foot, following a car chase for an alleged traffic violation. According to an autopsy from the Summit County Medical Examiner, Walker suffered 46 gunshot wounds as a result of police gunfire. While police claim that they found a firearm in Walker’s car, Walker was unarmed as he fled from and was killed by police. Despite this evidence, and despite the egregious nature in which Walker’s life was taken by the police, the grand jury found it appropriate to not indict the officers who killed Walker.
In addition to being a grave injustice in its own right, the killing of Jayland Walker is a local manifestation of a much larger societal problem. On average, more than 1,000 people across the United States are killed by police each year. Disturbingly, 1,176 people were killed by police in 2022, the deadliest year on record for police killings in this country. Also disturbing and relevant to the case of Jayland Walker is that 24 percent of all people killed last year by police were Black, despite only comprising 13 percent of the general population, and nearly one-third of all people killed last year were fleeing from police. Collectively, these killings represent a national and ongoing crisis.
The grand jury’s decision to not indict the officers who killed Jayland Walker also highlights a systemic problem within the criminal legal system. Statistics show that while grand juries will overwhelmingly make indictments in most cases brought before them, a stark exception exists in the form of cases involving police killings. The decision rendered for Jayland Walker joins other unjust decisions in high-profile police killings, including those of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Breonna Taylor.
Despite the unjust decision from the grand jury, Akron DSA remains unmoved in its basic commitment to educate the community in Akron and beyond on the ongoing crisis of police violence and the underlying problem of the repressive power of police as an institution. We continue to struggle for a future world where no police anywhere have the power to harass, assault, and murder people with little risk of facing consequences; where the incentives to call upon police violence to respond to social problems are eliminated; and where the need to rely upon a grand jury to hold police forces accountable for their violence is rendered moot.
Jim Mackinnon. “Akron to release body cam footage Sunday of Jayland Walker fatal shooting by police.” Akron Beacon Journal, July 1, 2022. URL: https://www.beaconjournal.com/story/news/2022/07/01/akron-police-shooting-jayland-walker-bodycam-video-ohio/7785675001/
Stephanie Warsmith. “What to know about the special grand jury convening Monday on Jayland Walker’s shooting.” Akron Beacon Journal, April 2, 2023. URL: https://www.beaconjournal.com/story/news/2023/04/02/jayland-walker-police-shooting-akron-ohio-grand-jury-to-meet/70046836007/
N’dea Yancey-Bragg, et al. “Grand jury to weigh if Akron police officers should be charged in Jayland Walker’s death.” USA Today, April 10, 2023. URL: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/04/10/jayland-walker-shooting-special-grand-jury-officer-charges/11621046002/
Sam Levin. “‘It never stops’: killings by U.S. police reach record high in 2022.” The Guardian, January 6, 2023. URL: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/06/us-police-killings-record-number-2022
Ben Casselman. “It’s incredibly rare for a grand jury to do what Ferguson’s just did.” FiveThirtyEight, November 24, 2014. URL: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/ferguson-michael-brown-indictment-darren-wilson/
James Pinkerton. “Hard to charge: investigation raises questions about whether grand jury system in Harris County favors police” (Part 3 of Bulletproof series). Houston Chronicle. URL: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/investigations/item/Bulletproof-Part-3-Hard-to-charge-24421.php