Warren officer cleared in shooting

WARREN – A Trumbull County grand jury cleared Warren police officer Michael Krafcik of any wrongdoing the night he shot a Warren man to death on Risher Road S.W., according to a news release issued Thursday afternoon by county Prosecutor Dennis Watkins.

Watkins’ opinion also states that the woman who was in the car will face manslaughter and weapons charges for her role in the episode.

Regan Jelks, 21,was in the car with Taemarr Walker, 24, early on Oct. 19 during the confrontation between Krafcik and Walker on Risher Road. Jelks has been arrested in Detroit.

With Warren addresses at 566 Woodbine Avenue S.E. and 2602 Niles Cortland Road S.E., Jelks still must be extradited from Michigan to face the charges of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle – one a misdemeanor and another a felony.

Video dash cam and audio evidence indicates Walker was armed inside the car where he was shot, according to the prosecutor’s opinion. Five shots struck Walker.

The prosecutor said Krafcik’s actions were a ”textbook example of self-defense by an officer responding to an armed criminal who brazenly failed to comply with the simple command of placing his hands up and not to move. This command was shouted at least 15 to 20 times to Walker and repeatedly ignored.

”Krafcik acted appropriately, legally and in self-defense when Walker suddenly lunged for a handgun under the front seat and saw the weapon in his hand. Officer Krafcik, at that moment in time, reasonably believed that his own life was threatened, and because of the deceased’s attempt to use a deadly weapon, he felt he had no choice but to shoot Walker.”

Watkins’ eight-page statement also said that Walker, who had seven felony arrests and a one-year prison sentence, was found wearing latex gloves and was believed to be in route to II Hype Lounge on Mahoning Avenue N.W., where the business closed up early after threats were received that Walker was going to ”shoot the bar up.”

Watkins said in the statement that an autopsy showed Walker had alcohol and drugs, including THC and Oxycodone, in his system when he died.

An independent investigation by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation revealed that Walker had with him a fully loaded semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle that had been stolen from a residence on Bane Street S.W. BCI agents recovered security video at the home showing Walker stealing guns June 22, the release states.

Also inside the car carrying Jelks and Walker was an unloaded Ruger 9 mm pistol that was removed by Warren police Sgt. Bryan Holmes from Walker’s hand after he was shot.

Holmes was the first on the scene at Risher Road near the intersection with Palmyra Road S.W., where Krafcik was attending to a disabled vehicle when the car carrying Jelks and Walker drove off the roadway and into a ditch.

At that point, Krafcik approached the newly disabled car with a flashlight in his hand and spotted Walker jump from the front seat to the back seat, where the assault rifle was located. While still being warned to remain still, Walker lunged from the back seat to the front seat, pulling the pistol from underneath the driver’s seat.

Krafcik first fired through the car window and then fired additional shots at Walker.

A tow truck driver, who was attending to the first disabled vehicle, corroborated the statements made by Krafcik and collected by BCI agents.

Watkins said he will not have any further comment on the matter until Jelks case is concluded.