By Amanda Musa and Tina Burnside
AKRON, OH (Newsource) – The eight Ohio police officers under investigation for the fatal shooting this year of 25-year-old Black man Jayland Walker have been reinstated and are back at work, though not in uniform or responding to service calls, the Akron Police Department said.
The officers, whose names have not been released, returned to work October 10, Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett told WEWS, noting he made the decision due to “staffing issues.”
“I recognize that this decision will have an impact and there may be some community concern,” Mylett said last month.
Walker was unarmed when he was shot and killed June 27 as he fled from a traffic stop, and an autopsy revealed he suffered 46 gunshot wounds or graze injuries. Like the deaths of other Black men at the hands of police, the case led to days of protests in the city.
The eight officers “directly involved in the shooting” all had been put on paid administrative leave, per department policy, Mylett said soon after the encounter. Seven are White, and one is Black, according to information released by the city.
Walker’s family, its legal team and Akron community members sent a letter October 21 to Mylett expressing their disappointment in the department’s decision to reinstate the eight officers.
“Chief Mylett’s justification of his decision that a department staffing shortage makes their reinstatement necessary is disrespectful to the community and the Walker family,” the letter reads.
The investigation into the shooting by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation “remains active and ongoing,” Attorney General David Yost’s spokesperson Steven Irwin wrote in an email Thursday.
The officers’ reinstatement “does not impact the investigation,” Mylett added. “The investigation will continue.”