John Crawford Jr. would regularly make the 400-mile drive from his home in Jackson, Tennessee, to Fairfield, Ohio, to see his son, John Crawford III. Sometimes they would plan a week in advance to meet up. Sometimes Crawford would call his son along the way. On Aug. 5, he decided to surprise him. He got in his car and made the trek to the home of Tressa Sherrod, John’s mother.
When Crawford arrived in Fairfield he saw LeeCee Johnson, the mother of John Crawford III’s two children, outside on her cell phone. She looked perplexed, Crawford thought. He just waved and walked into Sherrod’s house.
“Where’s Trey?” Crawford asked her about their son John, using his nickname.
Sherrod said John had gone out with a friend. Crawford figured he’d be back soon, so he sat down on the couch and started playing with his two grandsons, nearly 2-year-old John Henry IV and 5-month-old Jayden. Then Crawford heard Johnson scream to him from outside, “Oh. Mr. John, Mr. John! They shot him! They shot him!”
Crawford ran out to the front yard when he heard the cry. Johnson had been on the phone with John the whole time. She heard the shots ring out, and said John screamed: “Dad! Dad!”
Once Crawford got outside, Johnson put the phone on speaker. “I heard him scream,” Crawford told BuzzFeed News. “Some more voices were saying stuff like, ‘Try to hold your arms up, sir. We need you to try to stay with us.’”
Crawford stood there stunned, listening to the tragedy play out over the phone and unable to help his dying son. Johnson was jumping up and down. John, on the other end of the phone, was gasping, trying to breathe, sucking for air.
And then, suddenly, there was silence.
“That was it,” Crawford said.
That was the day 22-year-old John Crawford III was fatally shot by police inside a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton.
Surveillance video shows John Crawford III walking around the store with a pellet gun that he picked up inside the store.
A 911 caller would indicate that John Crawford III was pointing the pellet gun — which police would later discover to be a toy — at other shoppers, though there’s no way to tell if that’s true based on the video. The caller later recanted this statement. After the 911 call came in, Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow responded to the scene.
Darkow said in an official statement that once he was inside the store, he yelled for John Crawford III to get on the ground, but that he made a “quick movement.”
Williams said in his official statement that he shot John Crawford III twice after he didn’t respond to multiple commands to drop his weapon and turned toward police in an “aggressive manner.”
The video, finally released to the public last week, doesn’t seem to support this. Williams appears to shoot John Crawford III right after commanding him to drop his weapon.
John Henry Crawford III was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 29, 1992, to John Crawford Jr. and Tressa Sherrod, who were both in their mid-twenties. The couple never married, but they were always a family.
“We were young. The timing just wasn’t there,” Crawford Jr. said. “We kind of laugh about it. We were together so much that people would often call her Mrs. Crawford.”
Crawford Jr. worked in the Tennessee criminal justice system as a probation officer and criminal counselor and eventually relocated south for work, but his various jobs kept him in and out of the Cincinnati area frequently. The couple’s only son, John, would frequently visit his father too. Crawford could always tell if his son was there if the Weather Channel or History Channel were on the television.
“I could tell if he had been there while I was gone if the TV was on one of those two channels,” Crawford said. “It got to the point, I would just leave it on the Weather Channel if I’m not there.”
“He and I had a conversation the night before [John was killed] about him getting back into school,” Crawford said. “If I had to argue, he was probably going into the sciences. Maybe he would have been a meteorologist.”
Growing up, John Crawford III was in and out of different public and private schools in the Cincinnati area. As a teenager, his dad remembers John getting “stressed out” and worried about the direction he was going. Sensing his son was in a rut, Crawford started calling around to various academies that could be an alternative to John’s normal high school. They made the decision for John to register at Greensburg Christian Academy, which offered a program where students pay a fee and take a test to receive their high school diploma rather than go to class. At age 20, John passed the test and got his high school diploma.
Following his death, stories attempting to raise questions about John Crawford III’s character began to surface in the media.
The Cincinnati Enquirer published a report on John Crawford III’s criminal record, stating that he had minor offenses for marijuana possession and disorderly conduct. The article citing Hamilton County Court records also said in 2013 John Crawford III was charged with a felony for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon and for aggravated robbery. A grand jury declined to indict John III on the felony charges and his dad told the Cincinnati Enquirer his son was only initially charged because he was in his cousin’s car at the time.
The scrutiny of John Crawford III was reminiscent of how the character of other young black men shot under controversial circumstances has been litigated in the media.
Photos of Trayvon Martin giving the middle finger were widely circulated following his February 2012 shooting death. Reports surfaced nine days after he was killed in August that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of his death. The attorney for Michael Dunn, the man recently convicted of murder for shooting unarmed black teenager Jordan Davis, said the case was really about “a subculture thug issue.”
After receiving his high school diploma from Greensburg, Crawford III worked a number of odd jobs. He would pick up telemarketing gigs through a temp agency and manual labor jobs through some guys that his dad knew.
Soon, LeeCee Johnson and John Crawford III had their first son: John Henry Crawford IV. On John deciding to give his son the family name, John Crawford Jr. said, “I didn’t really expect that. That showed me that he really thought a lot of me.” The family gave John IV the nickname “Quatto” — just like his family had nicknamed John Crawford III “Trey.”
A year later, Johnson would give birth to their second child, Jayden. John was growing increasingly frustrated with his job prospects — he had two sons and needed a steady income. And he was tired of asking his parents to help him financially.
“The night before everything transpired we had a conversation about him wanting to get back into school,” Crawford said. “I was trying to expedite that, get him going in the spring somewhere — Kentucky State maybe, that’s my alma mater.”
John was, as his dad put it, “getting on track.”
After the phone went silent, Crawford and Sherrod jumped in the car, barely speaking as they made the 25-minute trip from Fairfield to Dayton. All they knew was that their son had been shot and was being taken to the hospital.
“I don’t know if we said two or three words to each other,” Crawford remembered about the drive.
Crawford drove with a range of questions running through his head:
How could police run up in the place and shoot somebody?
Was it a shootout?
Did someone commit a crime?
Did they get the wrong guy?
How does one go inside a Walmart and not come out alive?
On Sept. 24, special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier announced that the grand jury — which received testimony from 18 witnesses and watched hours of audio and video — would not indict Sgt. David Darkow and officer Sean Williams for the fatal shooting of John Crawford III. The investigation is now out of the hands of local authorities, and under the control of the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal government is conducting a “thorough and independent review of the evidence” and will “take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes.”
At a Sept. 24 news conference to announce the grand jury’s decision, Piepmeier presented about 20 minutes of surveillance video from inside the store. The footage shows Crawford III holding the pellet gun, and then dropping it and collapsing as police confront him. It is unclear exactly when the officer shot, based on the angle of the video. On the tape, you can hear the officers yell something at Crawford III followed by a gunshot about a second later. The audio of what the officers said to Crawford III is indiscernible because the shot followed quickly, but presumably they commanded that he drop the weapon.
There are more than 200 cameras in the Beaver Creek Walmart, according to a spokesperson for the Ohio attorney general. That means there are hundreds of hours of footage from Aug. 5 alone. When asked why, if there were 200 cameras in the store, the video only contains one angle and fails to show footage of the first shot fired at Crawford or the proof of the allegations that Crawford was pointing the pellet gun at customers, the federal government officials now in control of the investigation had no response. At the news conference, regarding the tape he was making public, Piepmeier said, “Because of the grand jury secrecy I cannot show you everything that was shown to the grand jury.”
John Crawford III’s family asked to see the Walmart surveillance video the day after the shooting, but it would be two weeks before the family was allowed to see about four minutes of security footage on Aug. 19.
The state Attorney General Mike DeWine made the decision not to release the tape to the public, claiming that it was evidence that could possibly sway the grand jury in the case.
DeWine only led the investigation for a few days before turning it over to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), and recommending that special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier take over the case. The court officially appointed Piepmeier on Aug. 26.
The state attorney general’s office described Piepmeier as an experienced prosecutor they were happy to have lead the investigation. During the Sept. 24 news conference, Piepmeier said that his assistant, Stacy DeGraffenreid, had been “side by side with me in all of this.” In fact, for some time during the investigation, she had led the proceedings. Piepmeier was on vacation.
John Crawford Jr. said he first spoke with Piepmeier “on or around Thursday, Aug. 28.” He called Crawford’s cell and introduced himself and stated that he did not want the case but that he was “made to take it.” Piepmeier let Crawford know that he would be on vacation and would contact him upon his return to Ohio. Crawford told BuzzFeed News he did not meet with the special prosecutor again until several weeks later “on or around Monday, Sept. 15,” in Piepmeier’s office in downtown Cincinnati.
“He had a long-standing prior commitment,” Piepmeier’s spokesperson told BuzzFeed News during a phone call, refusing to use the word vacation. “Ms. DeGraffenreid took over the investigation in his absence.” Piepmeier’s office refused to comment on the dates of his absence. DeWine’s office refused to say if they knew that Piepmeier would be on vacation during the investigation when they recommended him to lead the case.
“Piepmeier did not want the case,” John Crawford Jr. told BuzzFeed News, saying that he was furious with how the investigation proceeded. “I have no idea where he went. I just know he went on vacation. We didn’t find this out until it was told to us right before he went on vacation we would have to wait until he got back.”
Like DeWine, Piepmeier chose not to release the video. In an editorial in a local paper last week, DeWine discussed how he and the special prosecutors saw eye to eye on the issue: When Greene County Common Pleas Court appointed Mark Piepmeier as the special prosecutor in the Beavercreek case on Aug. 27, 2014, he could have changed course and released the videos to the public. He did not. He waited until the grand jury concluded its work. He determined that releasing the videos prematurely created too great of a risk of tainting the judicial process.
But before Piepmeier left for his trip, he and DeGraffenreid met with DeWine, according to a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.
“I can’t comment on everything they talked about,” DeWine’s spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “But I’m sure it [whether or not to release the video] was discussed.” It’s unclear whether or not DeWine encouraged or persuaded Piepmeier to remain consistent with his stance.
In the same editorial, DeWine describes that nobody in the media filed a “legal action seeking disclosure.” DeWine writes:
If anyone, including the media, had disagreed with my decision or the appointed special prosecutor’s decision not to release the videos, they could have filed a legal action seeking disclosure. I remain confident that had such an action been filed, the courts would have agreed that the video was not subject to disclosure.
BuzzFeed News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Captain Eric Grile of the Beavercreek Police Department on Aug. 19. We requested all records including “Beavercreek police policies and procedures, personnel files of Officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow, all pertinent 911 calls, and the incident report and all related materials.”
Over a month later, after the grand jury decision, BuzzFeed News obtained the incident report, witness statements, statements from Williams and Darkow, and a Response to Resistance report signed by Williams and Darkow.
A number of details in the case remain unclear. In the news conference, Piepmeier stated that he told the Crawford family that he believed John Crawford III didn’t realize he was even carrying the pellet gun anymore, since he was on the phone.
Piepmeier told the Crawford family because Crawford III was on the phone, “he probably didn’t realize that he’s carrying that gun.”
“He’s still on the phone. He’s probably not paying attention to what he’s doing,” said Piepmeier. As previously mentioned, the police officers’ statements said that Crawford III acted aggressively and moved toward them in a threatening way.
Additionally, in the Resistance to Response report, the officers indicate that weapons were used against them. The video shows no indication of this.
The Department of Justice told BuzzFeed News they were following procedure by letting the local officials conduct the initial investigation. Crawford’s family, on the other hand, wanted them to take over from the beginning.
“Mike DeWine should have recused himself of the case,” said Crawford Jr., noting that the BCI and the special prosecutors both were technically working under the Ohio attorney general. “He should have handed it over to the U.S. attorney general’s office so that the Department of Justice can get involved. He cannot exercise his duty without being biased. That’s the upsetting part.”
DeWine says that after the case was handed to the special prosecutors, however, he had “no involvement.”
“The Bureau of Criminal Investigation remained the investigative agency,” a spokesperson for DeWine said. “And yes, the BCI works under the attorney general’s office. But other than that, DeWine had no involvement.”
July 29, 2014, was John Crawford III’s 22nd birthday. On the night before, he called up his dad.
“Hey, Dad, I’m almost 22. Let’s do something,” Crawford Jr. remembered John saying to him on the phone. “I’ll miss that. That’s how he always started our conversations: ‘Hey, Dad…’”
The father and son then went to Memories Sports Bar in Fairfield. They played pool and talked. “I talked to him about the school situation, but for the most part we just enjoyed each other’s company,” Crawford said.
They stayed until midnight, so it was technically John’s 22nd birthday. The two played music, drank, and joked around. Crawford beat his son at pool. “Shooting wise, he couldn’t match me,” Crawford said. “He knew he couldn’t, he just liked to play.”
A week later, Crawford and Sherrod were in a Dayton hospital, searching for news about their son. They were taken to a room in the back where four doctors, a couple of nurses, and a hospital chaplain were waiting for them. Crawford knew it was bad.
A doctor began to tell Crawford and Sherrod what happened to their son: He was hit in the back of his left elbow. The bullet exited, breaking his arm. A second bullet hit him in the upper torso and went straight through his right side and through his right arm. He had a total of six holes in his body. The doctor said they attempted to resuscitate him.
“So I interjected and said, ‘Ma’am, are you trying to tell me my son is dead?’” Crawford said.
“And she said, ‘Mr. Crawford, I’m so sorry, he did not make it.’”
“Everything she said was in the past tense: ‘He tried to fight. He tried.’”
UPDATE: Jan. 3, 2015
John Crawford’s Girlfriend Mysteriously Dies In Car Crash and not for a minute do I believe this was an accident
John Crawford’s Girlfriend Mysteriously Dies In Car Crash and not for a minute do I believe this was an accident, this vehicle was tampered with by Law Enforcement
New Year’s Day Jan. 1, 2015 Tasha Thomas, 26, the girlfriend of John Crawford has been confirmed as one of the two victims of a fatal car crash. 30-year-old Frederick Bailey, the driver has also been pronounced deceased.
Frederick Bailey, with passenger Thomas was traveling at nearly 100 miles per hour on a city street at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when it crashed into a pole and overturned several times. There is no explanation for why the vehicle would have been traveling at such an astonishing speed on downtown Dayton streets in the middle of the afternoon.
Thomas and Bailey were both ejected from the gray Pontiac sedan and thrown between 75 and 100 feet from the car, which landed on its top around a tree in a front yard.
Witnesses on scene gave accounts
“The vehicle was traveling approximately 90 to 100 mph, lost control, hit an RTA pole and then flipped several times.”
An official in the Montgomery County coroner’s office confirmed Thomas, who lived in Fairborn, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at 3.06 pm and Bailey died at the emergency room approximately 22 minutes later. Thomas died of “multiple trauma injuries” and Bailey from “multiple blunt force injuries”.
The crash comes as police response to protests and “die ins” at the Beavercreek Walmart and Fairfield Commons Mall have drawn national scrutiny and now the Police are attempting to assert “Excessive speed and alcohol may have played factors in the double fatal crash.” However I strongly believe this is no coincidence. I see conspiracy on the part of Law Enforcement just like that of the 71 top Bankers who have been found dead of no natural causes. All have been killed in cold blood, died in “accidents” or have allegedly committed suicide. In some of the cases, their deaths are so suspicious the ‘suicide’ verdict is simply ridiculous.
I believe the **Accident** was “payback” for the heat police are getting for Tasha Thomas going public after the video circulated of Beavercreek Police Detective Rodney Curd brutally interrogating Tasha; accusing her and John of planning a massive heist of the Walmart Pharmacy to get thousands of dollars in drugs. Threatening jail for being an accomplice.
In the video Officer Curd can be seen and heard hammering Tasha. He berated and harassed her, accused her of lying, threatened her with jail time, and implied she was high on drugs. Officer Curd criminalized Tasha repeatedly, tormented her for failing to implicate herself, or her boyfriend John in what was truly the egregious misconduct of Beavercreek Officer Sean William. The interrogation goes well beyond the definition of “cruel and unusual” psychological abuse.
At the conclusion of the interrogation, Officer Curd blames John for his own death and in doing so informs Tasha for the first time, and in the most unimaginably heartless way her boyfriend is dead.
As was quoted by Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark
“A certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish – but there was no diamond inside. That’s what I think about coincidence.”
Tasha Thomas’ death is no accident
John Crawford’s girlfriend aggressively questioned after Ohio police shot him dead in Walmart
Police aggressively questioned the tearful girlfriend of a young black man they had just shot dead as he held a BB gun in an Ohio supermarket – accusing her of lying, threatening her with jail, and suggesting that she was high on drugs.
Tasha Thomas was reduced to swearing on the lives of her relatives that John Crawford III had not been carrying a firearm when they entered the Walmart in Beavercreek, near Dayton, to buy crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars on the evening of 5 August.
“You lie to me and you might be on your way to jail,” detective Rodney Curd told Thomas, as she wept and repeatedly offered to take a lie-detector test. After more than an hour and a half of questioning and statement-taking, Curd finally told Thomas that Crawford, 22, had died.
“As a result of his actions, he is gone,” said the detective, as she slumped in her chair and cried.
Crawford had been shot by police officer Sean Williams, after a customer called 911 and claimed the 22-year-old was pointing a gun at passersby. Surveillance footage released later showed Crawford picking up the BB rifle from a shelf, wandering the aisles and occasionally swinging the gun at his side while he spoke on his cellphone to his ex-girlfriend.
A 94-minute police video recording, released to the Guardian by the office of Mike DeWine, the Ohio attorney general, in response to a public records request, shows Thomas, 26, being interviewed by Curd after she was driven from Walmart to the Beavercreek police department. Curd later told investigators he had not yet been told Crawford only had a BB gun that had been on sale at the store.
Curd promptly asked Thomas whether she and Crawford had criminal records. Already tearful and breathless, Thomas explained that she may have had some traffic offences and had been arrested for petty theft as a juvenile.
The detective then became increasingly aggressive and banged on the table between them with his hand. “Tell me where he got the gun from,” Curd repeated. Thomas insisted Crawford had been carrying only a white plastic grocery bag when they arrived at Walmart to buy the ingredients to make s’mores at a family cook-out.
Asked one of several times whether Crawford owned a gun, Thomas said: “Not that I know.”
Curd told her: “Don’t tell me ‘not that you know’, because that’s the first thing I realise somebody’s not telling me the truth”.
He later repeated: “You need to tell me the truth” and “You need to be truthful.”
Crawford’s family and their attorneys have stressed since his death that under Ohio’s open-carry firearms laws and Walmart’s regulations, he would have been allowed to carry a real rifle with him around the store.
Crawford was talking on his cellphone to LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two sons, when he was shot by Williams. Curd repeatedly suggested to Thomas that Johnson, who was in fact at home in Cincinnati, may also have been in the Walmart store and that Crawford was there to attack her.
“Did he ever mention ‘I’m going to shoot that bitch’ or something like that?” the detective asked Thomas, who insisted that Crawford had not. Johnson, whom Thomas had never met, was miles away and listened over the phone while Crawford died.
At several points during the interview Thomas swore to God, and on the lives of her three children, the grave of her late brother and “on everything I have” that she was telling the truth, but Curd remained dismissive.
Curd also pushed Thomas on whether she was intoxicated, asking her: “Have you been drinking? Drugs? Your eyes are kind of messed-up looking”. After she told him that Crawford had smelled of marijuana, Curd took down notes. He went on to ask whether Crawford had been suicidal.
The detective, a 26-year veteran of Beavercreek, was interviewed about his involvement in the case three days later, by two special agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which had taken over the inquiry. Curd explained to the agents that he “believed the deceased had brought a weapon into the Walmart and geared the interview with that assumption”.
“Curd stated that he became aggressive during the interview with Thomas because of his (Curd) disbelief that if Mr Crawford brought a gun inside Walmart, Ms Thomas didn’t see the gun,” the agents noted in their report, which was released by the Ohio attorney general’s office in September.
After the case was handed to a special prosecutor, a grand jury decided in September that Williams and another officer involved should not face criminal charges. Williams was in 2010 responsible for the only other fatal police shooting in Beavercreek’s recent history.
UPDATE: Oct. 18, 2014
When Officer Sean Williams gunned down John Crawford in the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart, two of our citizen journalists were on the scene within what amounted to minutes.
“What took the longest was getting into the parking lot. We were on our way to Colonel Glenn, one block parallel to a different store. But when a number of officers swarmed the shopping center, we decided to pull in and see what was going on,” our reporters explained.
It didn’t take long to find out some of the specifics, “people were running everywhere, to their cars, to other stores like Office Depot. They were trying to get as far away from Walmart as possible.”
Why? “They said there was a ‘crazed gun man firing at shoppers.’ Little did we know then, but this ‘crazed gunman’ who they were referring to was not John Crawford, it was Officer Williams,” our other citizen journalist on the scene added.
Our reporters say that they’ve deliberately kept their names out of this because of previous harassment by the Beavercreek Police Department.
“A couple of years ago we filmed the Beavercreek cops arresting a lady who was begging for money on Christmas Eve. We had just given her some cash and we watched the Beavercreek cops literally pocket it. We pulled over and started filming. We gave her another $20 and challenged the officer to steal it while we were filming.”
But it didn’t end there. “The officer began screaming at us that we were not to approach him. He was grabbing his sidearm, even though we were a good 15 or more feet away. We left, realizing that we were about to get shot, and we put the video on YouTube.”
That’s when the threats from Beavercreek cops began.
“We were threatened day in and day out for a month. The Beavercreek cops called us, inboxed us at email addresses they should not have known. They threatened us with personal harm and even threatened to get us kicked out of [local University].”
Eventually they took the video down and the threats from the Beavercreek police came to an end.
“It didn’t surprise us when we heard about the Beavercreek Police shooting a black man in Walmart. That is what they do: they arrest or – in this case – kill people who come in from outside of the area and make the town seem lower income. The Supreme Court even had to stop them from their racist ban on bus stops, which aimed to keep black people out of Fairfield Commons Mall.” That mall is right across the street from the Walmart where John Crawford was shot.
Our reporters told us something else about the Beavercreek Police that might surprise you.
“The funny thing is, there are some decent folks in the Beavercreek department. I know a couple of them from […] and one has told me several things about this case… but they wish to remain anonymous, of course.”
We, of course, have withheld the connection of our reporters to the officers they referred to, as this would compromise anonymity.
Our reporter turned to one of these sources in the Beavercreek Police Department in particular, early on when we were the first to identify the single shooter of Crawford. They told us the specific name and history of Officer Sean Williams, before any of this was public knowledge, as well as the fact that he had killed before, in fact being the only Beavercreek officer to have killed anyone in the line of work in the history of the department.
So we turned to them again about this case, and this is what they told our reporters…
“Nobody on the force wants Williams here anymore.”
“Why?” our reporters asked. “Could you elaborate?”
“He’s a liability. We all know it. There was an investigation last time he shot someone. It seemed more clear cut, but the family disputed his claims – said that he never charged him with the knife, that Williams was lying. I don’t know who is telling the truth, and neither did anyone else except the family, Sean and a dead vet[eran].”
We asked further, “what about him being a liability? Why won’t the Chief just fire him?”
“It’s not that simple,” the officer explained to us. “He has history here: family history. The Chief honors that.”
The officer seemed to have been referring to the fact that Officer Sean William’s father works for the department and has for decades. He in fact parked a K-9 unit vehicle with a barking police dog right near where protesters were blocking the entrance to the department during last week’s occupation of the Beavercreek Police Department. In spite of the illegal barricade and goading arrest by activists, police stood down as the department was shut down.
“Sean is a lose cannon. That’s how many of us feel. We want to get back to work. But he’s making this our daily priority. We’re constantly being briefed about one thing or another related to this case. Once he’s back on the beat, what if he shoots someone else? Is this just something we have to expect every few years now?”
We asked the officer if this is the general consensus among officers at the Beavercreek Police Department.
“Everyone doesn’t feel as strongly about this as I do, but I would say yes, that is the general climate, aside from people close to [the Williams family].”
This Saturday there is a major protest demanding justice for John Crawford at the state capital in Columbus. The officer we spoke to encouraged protesters to “keep it up. There is nothing you are doing that is illegal. If other cops don’t like it: too damn bad.”
We asked about the blockade of the department too, they replied: “I am not privy to all of the details, but I will tell you that while there was some discussion, I don’t think anyone was ever going to get arrested. The Department is out of the way for many reasons. But one is that you can protest there all day and no one will know unless they know. It was an inconvenience, but at the end of the day, Chief told you that he’s gonna do whatever-the-hell he wants anyway. So you packed up, you went home. That’s what he knew would happen. He’s just hoping it all blows over and fizzles out. If arrests would have been made, it would have brought more attention to this. He [the Chief] just wants this to go away – I just want this to go away. But we disagree on what that means for Sean. I don’t think this can or even should go away until he is off the streets for good. Then we can get back to doing our jobs.”
UPDATE: Sept. 24, 2014
Ohio grand jury: No indictments in John Crawford Walmart shooting
Special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier has announced that after three days of grand jury testimony, there will be no indictments in the shooting death of John Crawford III, which took place inside an Ohio Walmart in August.
Video taken from Walmart surveillance cameras were released at the press conference and they still don’t seem to tell the whole story.
Based on the video they released, Crawford does not appear to be pointing the air rifle at anyone. Ronald Ritchie was the 911 caller who alerted police and claimed:
Ronald Ritchie said Crawford “was just waving the gun at children and people…I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody.
“He didn’t really want to be looked at and when people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at them. He was pointing at people. Children walking by.”
Unless there is additional video supporting Ritchie’s original claims, which he has since recanted, it is hard to imagine why charges haven’t been brought against Ronald Ritchie at a minimum.
Crawford’s family, who were on the phone with him at the time of the shooting, are disputing the police version of events, specifically that he ignored warnings to drop the “weapon.”
See the press conference and surveillance video below the fold.
10:25 AM PT: To clarify, the grand jury were only considering whether to indict the two police officers who fatally shot John Crawford III. No word on whether any action will be taken against Ronald Ritchie for the exaggerated and/or false claims he made to the 911 operator.
Sept. 24, 2014
John Crawford’s girlfriend speaks out after grand jury decision
UPDATE: Sept. 9, 2014
Walmart Shooting: Lone 911 Caller Admits Lie, Crawford Never Pointed ‘Gun’ — And That’s Not All
Ritchie is telling a very different story. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper Sunday, Ritchie said that “at no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody.”
Ritchie continued to maintain that Crawford was “waving (the gun) around.” But an attorney for Crawford’s family who has seen Walmart surveillance video of the incident and the minutes leading up to the shooting says the video shows nothing of the kind.
Michael Wright said that the video shows Crawford walking while on the phone, with the BB gun pointed at the floor, except for one moment in which he casually swung the toy gun up to his shoulder.
Ritchie said that he was also shown the video by prosecutors, which Wright called “very improper.” Witness stories must be based solely on their personal recollections of an incident, the lawyer said.
Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine has not made the video public, saying that to do so would “playing with dynamite.”
Wright said that in the video, no other customers appeared to pay much notice to Crawford and the BB gun. But Ritchie said he felt threatened by Crawford, as did his wife, leading to the 911 call. Ritchie was the only person to call 911 from the Walmart.
So why would Ritchie lie about Crawford’s actions? That remains unclear, but it appears that he told another lie as well. In his round of media interviews, Ritchie told reporters that he was “an ex-Marine.”
The truth is that Ritchie was expelled from the Marine Corps after just seven weeks because his enlistment was determined to be “fraudulent.” Ritchie now says that the debacle was simply the result of bad paperwork.
Ritchie continued to defend his 911 call, even though Crawford was simply carrying a BB gun picked up off a store shelf, saying that “Even still, it’s a gun in Walmart, in a public place, inducing panic.”
But Ohio has an “open carry” law, meaning that carrying a rifle in public is permissible under the law.
A 37-year-old woman also died, collapsing of heart failure in the panic that ensued in the police shooting of John Crawford in Walmart.