WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Trumbull County grand jury has decided a Warren police officer was only defending himself when he shot and killed a man while investigating an accident in October.
The grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of Officer Michael Krafcik, who shot and killed Taemarr Walker in October, according to a press release distributed Thursday by Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins.
In the incident, Krafcik was attending to a single-vehicle crash on Risher Road when a car driven by Walker approached, drove off the road and got stuck in a ditch, according to the report.
According to the investigation, Krafick approached the crashed Red Pontiac that contained Taemarr Walker and his girlfriend Regan Jelks. Krafcik saw a rifle in the back seat of the car.
According to the release, Walker lunged toward the rifle, but did not touch it. Then after the officer ordered Walker between 15 to 20 times to put his hands up and not move, Walker lunged under the driver’s seat and grabbed a handgun. That’s when Krafcik shot Walker five times, killing him.
The tow truck driver who was at the scene witnessed the whole thing and backed up the officer’s story.
“I am pleased with the grand jury’s decision in this case. It was certainly a tragedy for the deceased, the officer and their families and also the community. Officer Krafcik has a duty to protect and serve this community. He also has a right to go home safely to his family at night,” said Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel.
However the department is still conducting its own internal investigation. The administrative side of this case will be complete by the end of this month and will be reviewed with the Department of Justice.
“The administrative side looks to see if there are any policy violations or any areas of training that we can use from this to further train our officers,” Merkel said.
Merkel said Krafcik is still dealing with the effects of the shooting and will not return to the street, but will instead finish out his career in the evidence cage, where he has been since the shooting.
Walker’s girlfriend, Regan Jelks, who was the owner of the car, has been indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of of improperly handling a firearm. She is in jail in Detroit and is awaiting extradition back to Warren to face charges.
Following the shooting, the city of Warren experienced a spree of violence where some actions were thought to be in retaliation to the shooting. Warren Mayor Doug Franklin enlisted the help of the Ohio High State Highway Patrol to monitor the streets and called for peace in the city.