Just months after eight Akron police officers fired dozens of rounds that killed Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man, following a car and foot chase, voters approved creating a permanent police oversight board and police auditor.
The measure approved Tuesday goes beyond a plan for more oversight that Akron City Council authorized in September. Backers say the civilian oversight board will operate more independently from elected officials.
The idea for an independent oversight board came about during protests over Walker’s death this past summer.
A preliminary autopsy showed Walker was shot dozens of times on June 27 after two officers initially tried to stop his car for minor equipment violations. Walker refused to stop and, seconds into the pursuit, a shot was fired from his car, police said.
The officers chased the car and Walker stopped and bailed a short time later. Ignoring officers’ commands, he ran into an adjacent parking lot where he was killed in a hail of police gunfire, police body camera video shows. Authorities said Walker represented a ‘deadly threat.’ A handgun and a wedding ring were found on the driver’s seat of his car.
The new oversight panel will hire a police auditor who will have authority to audit police activity and policies, access records and investigate police behavior as long it doesn’t conflict with the police union contract or constitutional rights.