WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Opening statements and testimony began Tuesday in the trial of a woman accused of playing a role in the police officer shooting death of Taemarr Walker.
Regan Jelks, 21, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Walker’s death because prosecutors believe Jelks knowingly had two firearms, one loaded and one unloaded, in her car at the time of the October 2013 shooting.
Jelks is accused of two counts of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and one count of involuntary manslaughter, which is a felony. Jelks is accused of causing the death of Walker as a result of Walker committing or attempting to commit a felony.
Prosecutors say Jelks indirectly had a role in the death of Walker. She owned the car they were in, and prosecutors said she knew full well there were two guns inside the vehicle.
Her attorneys dispute those claims.
Walker was shot after Officer Michael Krafcik responded to reports of an accident on Risher Road where a car, driven by Walker, was stuck in a ditch. According to the investigation, Krafcik approached the red Pontiac and spotted a rifle in the back seat. Walker lunged under the car seat and grabbed a handgun. Krafcik fired at Walker five times, killing him.
The first to take the stand in the Trumbull County courtroom was the tow truck driver who witnessed the shooting.
“All of a sudden he just pushed me out of the way. When Mr. Walker went to dive in the front seat, he kind of pushed me off to the side and I just kind of backed up out of the way and I heard him say ‘he’s reaching, he’s reaching’ and the shots went off after that,” Jeffrey Gifford said.
Krafcik, who was cleared in the shooting, requested that his testimony in court not be allowed to be recorded because of death threats made against him. The judge agreed.
During testimony. Kraficik told jurors he noticed the gun on the back seat of the Impala. He repeatedly asked Walker to put his hands in the air, but Walker kept jumping from the front to the back and to the front seat again.
“He reached under the front driver seat area with his right hand. He fumbled around for a while. I was still issuing commands ‘show me your hands, I am going to shoot you.’ He then pulled his right hand out from underneath the driver’s seat with a pistol in his hand,” Krafcik testified.
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.
Both Gifford and Krafcik testified that Jelks complied with officer commands, but was obviously scared for her life after the ordeal.
Walker’s shooting sparked a series of events in the city of Warren that led to social media threats of retaliation. Warren Mayor Doug Franklin pleaded for peace in the days following the shooting, calling on local and state police agencies to assist Warren officers in patrolling the city.