Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Against Akron Over Protests Following Police Killing of Jayland Walker

AKRON, Ohio – The city of Akron has reached a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by 24 individuals who were arrested during protests in early July 2022 following the killing of Jayland Walker by Akron police officers. The suit, filed in June of 2023 against the City of Akron, then-Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, and Akron police officers, alleged that the defendants violated the constitutional rights of peaceful demonstrators protesting the 2022 police shooting of Jayland Walker.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 24 plaintiffs, including national activists Bianca Austin, aunt of Breonna Taylor; Michael Harris; Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake Jr.; and Cortez Rice. The terms of the settlement have not been made public, but U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Grimes Jr. stated in the case record that both sides have agreed to a resolution and will finalize a settlement agreement by February 2, with the first payment to be made by February 23.

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik confirmed that the city has agreed to settle the lawsuit. Malik stated that the decision to settle was based on the potential cost associated with continuing to litigate the case, and the responsibility to use taxpayer money wisely.

The civil rights law firm Friedman, Gilbert + Gerhardstein filed the complaint on behalf of the plaintiffs, alleging that Akron police officers subjected peaceful demonstrators and bystanders to baseless mass arrests and unnecessary violence, including beatings, tear gas, and pepper spray. The city had brought charges against the protesters, putting them through nearly a year of criminal litigation until all charges were dropped or acquitted.

The charges against the protestors stemmed from demonstrations that occurred following the release of bodycam footage in July 2022, after eight Akron police officers shot and killed Jayland Walker. In April 2023, a grand jury in Summit County issued a “no bill” decision, declining to charge the officers for Walker’s fatal shooting, which led to further demonstrations in Akron.

The Akron Police Department conducted an internal investigation into the Walker shooting and found that the officers’ use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and complied with the department’s use of force policy.

In addition to the federal lawsuit settled by the city, the Walker family has also filed a separate federal lawsuit against the city of Akron, the eight officers involved, former Mayor Horrigan, and former police chief Steve Mylett, seeking at least $45 million in damages.

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