Jayland Walker’s family calls for DOJ investigation into his death, questions integrity of new information


They held a news conference Wednesday, on what would have been Walker’s 26th birthday, addressing the Akron police union president’s interview with a local station in which the president said he provided the police chief with new information about why Walker was pursued by officers.

In what he called an effort to “correct any false narrative,” union president Clay Cozart told CNN affiliate WEWS that officers told him they saw Walker’s car in a high crime area before the chase, and after running the plates, discovered that the car was being pursued by a different police department a day earlier.

“Nobody at (the Bureau of Criminal Investigation), nobody in the department, nobody in this family, nobody involved in this loss needs a union chief to clarify anything,” family attorney Bobby DiCello said Wednesday. “What that does is now it creates questions as to the integrity of the investigation and now we’ve got to stand and ask for an outside investigation, and we have to challenge the process that was given to us that we were asked to trust.”

Walker, who was unarmed a the time of his death, was shot and killed as he fled from a traffic stop on June 27. An autopsy revealed he suffered 46 gunshot wounds or graze injuries, according to the county medical examiner.

DiCello reiterated his concern about the investigation in a statement to CNN, saying, “(The police union’s) knowledge of investigative findings that have not been shared with the Walkers’ legal team have egregiously compromised the investigation.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is currently in charge of investigating Walker’s death. The NAACP has already called for the Department of Justice to investigate.

Police records, previously obtained by CNN, show the same 2002 Buick sedan driven by Walker the night he was shot by police was the target of an aborted vehicle pursuit in nearby New Franklin, Ohio, the night before. In his report, a New Franklin patrolman wrote that a traffic stop was attempted due to an equipment violation.

A supervisor ordered the chase be terminated a minute after it started and once it reached the city limits. The report only identified the driver of the vehicle as an “adult suspect” and makes no mention of Walker. A separate police document shows the vehicle information was inputted into the police database.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigations denied sharing any investigation-related information with Akron’s police union.

“BCI shall remain steadfast in our commitment to independent investigations regarding officer involved shootings, and this case is no different. No updates have or will be provided to the FOP president or any other parties by BCI while the investigation is ongoing. The officers involved in the incident have a constitutional right to legal counsel like everyone else would in this situation. The family and the community deserves a thorough, independent investigation, and that is what they will get,” a spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

CNN has reached out to the union president and New Franklin police to inquire about the previous traffic stop.

Jayland Walker's family attorney, Bobby DiCello, speaks during a news conference Wednesday.

DiCello said he spoke with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown to assist in “facilitating” a conversation with DOJ and said the legal team has reached out to US Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“The mail should be arriving on his desk today. We join the NAACP in its request — issued by President Derrick Johnson — to have the DOJ get involved in this.” DiCello said.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and the FBI Field Office in Akron, Ohio are closely monitoring and reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of Jayland Walker,” a DOJ spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.

“The FBI continues to coordinate with state and local partners to provide resources and specialized skills. If the evidence reveals potential violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take appropriate action.”

CNN’s Josh Campbell, Hannah Rabinowitz, Dakin Andone, Omar Jimenez and Liam Reilly contributed to this report.

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