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Jayland Walker was not tested for gunshot residue during autopsy

Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler explained why a gun residue test wasn't performed on Jayland Walker.

CLEVELAND — Speaking at a press briefing to detail Jayland Walker's autopsy, Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler said that she understood that questions had been raised as to whether or not Walker had gunshot residue on his hands when he was shot and killed by Akron police officers last month.

As such, Dr. Kohler explained why testing for gunshot residue wasn't performed during Walker's autopsy, which revealed that he was struck by bullets 46 times with his cause of death having been medically labeled as a homicide.

"Although the technology used to demonstrate the presence or absence of gunshot residue is sound, there are many factors that contribute to false positives or false negatives," she said. "Gunshot residue testing can detect specific particles related to the discharge of a firearm, but the results of that testing is not conclusive as to whether the person did or did not fire a weapon. 

"These particles are very fine and they are easily dislodged from the skin by acts as simple as putting your hands into your pockets or the action of sweating. A positive test does not indicate that the person tested fired a weapon. And a negative test does not mean that the person tested did not fire a weapon or did not handle or was not in the vicinity of a recently fired weapon.

"The FBI lab discontinued gunshot residue testing in 2006. Based upon these issues related to the interpretation and testing and the ease at which these particles can be dislodged from the skin, the medical examiner's office discontinued collecting these samples in 2016 and no longer purchases the collection kits to be used by our staff. Because of this, Mr. Walker's hands were not swabbed or tested for gunshot residue."

Asked if any other investigations relating to Walker's death would test him for gunshot residue, Summit County Director of Communications Greta Johnson said that she could not comment on any other ongoing investigations.

Whether or not Walker fired a gun during the events that led to his death on June 27 has been the subject of speculation in the weeks since. According to Akron Police, Walker fired a gun out of the window of his car at some point during the pursuit, which began when they attempted to pull the 25-year-old over for a traffic and equipment violation.

Among the footage released on July 3 was a traffic video that showed a flash coming out of Walker’s car that they say is consistent with a gunshot.

Following the six-minute-long chase, Walker exited the car on Wilbeth Road near the Bridgestone Tire offices while wearing a black ski mask. The footage shows officers attempting to deploy non-lethal tasers before firing their guns and striking Walker, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Police said that they fired their guns because Walker made a motion that caused them to fear for their lives. Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said that while it is difficult to see in a real-time viewing of the video, screen captures from the footage show Walker making multiple movements -- including Walker moving his hand to his waist area, turning toward the officers and making a forward motion with his arm -- that he said that each officer involved believed to be Walker moving into a “firing” position.

A gun, magazine round, and gold wedding ring were found in the passenger seat of Walker’s car. 

Per department policy, the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave. Seven of the eight officers involved were white and none had previously faced work-related discipline. Walker is Black.

The incident is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. You can watch the entirety of Friday's press briefing in the video player below.

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