AKRON, Ohio — Wellington police chief Tim Barfield has taught use of force in several states. He said the United States Supreme Court outlined standards for use of force by police in the 1989 case Graham v. Connor. 

What You Need To Know

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has set standards for use of force by police

  • De-escalation trainer John Cooney said the number of shots fired in the Jayland Walker shooting may be because of something called contagious fire

  • Cooney said Akron police may not be specifically trained for contagious fire

“The Graham decision gave us three things to look for in every use of force. What’s the severity of the crime that we’re talking about in this particular case?" Barfield said. "Is there a threat to the officers or others? And was a person attempting to evade or resisting arrest?" 

In Jayland Walker’s case, Barfield said the body camera video shows Akron police shot Walker dozens of times, but it doesn’t show the mindset of the officers. 

Akron police said Walker fired a shot at officers during a car chase. Body camera video shows he then jumped from the car and tried to run. Police said officers tried to use a taser to stop him before he was shot. Police said they later found a gun in Walker’s car, but he was not armed when he was shot.

Barfield said investigators should determine whether officers believed Walker was armed when they shot him. 

“If their mindset was that he reached towards his waistband and turned towards them, [officers may have thought] he may have been pulling that weapon that was in the car," Barfield said. 

John Cooney is a retired police captain who has taught de-escalation for police in several states. He said dozens of rounds may have been fired because of a concept called contagious fire, which is when one officer shoots and the other officers follow. Cooney said this is a generally a reactive response and not something that an officer is trained to do. 

“Once an officer determined that the threat existed and did utilize the option of lethal force, we see so often that the other officers respond to that affirmative decision and respond in kind with their own decisions," Cooney said. 

Cooney said this case involved a split-second decision, with high stress as a factor, which resulted in deadly force. 

“In our training, deadly force is a decision that brings with it only results, unfortunately. If you utilize deadly force, if you’ve made a determination that deadly force is authorized, there’s no low point, there’s no let’s see how it goes. It is a total commitment by the officer to engage the suspect and terminate the threat," Cooney said when asked if there is such a thing as excessive deadly force. 

In the meantime, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Akron Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards and Accountability are investigating the incident.