John Crawford was the unfortunate black man holding a BB gun in the toy section of a Walmart Store in Beavercreek, OH, when police, in response to several 911 calls, shot and killed him on August 5, 2014. Police have maintained that Crawford was waving the BB gun around in a threatening manner when they arrived and refused their commands to drop the "weapon" (even though Ohio is an "open carry" state), thus requiring his execution style death by cop.
However, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine, who assigned the case investigating the police homicide of Mr. Crawford to a special prosecutor, recently allowed family members and their attorneys to view the surveillance tape from the store that shows the moments up to and including John Crawford's shooting death by police. After viewing that tape, the family's attorneys and Crawford's father dispute the police account of this incident in no uncertain terms:
Attorney Michael Wright said: "We need Mike DeWine to refer this case to the Department of Justice. Not to a special prosecutor."
Wright said Crawford did nothing wrong in Walmart. "Nothing more, nothing less than shopping."
Wright, who has seen store surveillance video of the shooting incident, said Crawford was shot while talking on the phone, holding the butt of the gun with the barrel pointed at the floor.
He said Crawford was "shot on sight" in a "militaristic" response.
This is extremely troubling news. Much like the case of Michael Brown, the family has been complaining that leaks about the investigation have benefited the police shooters and denigrated John Crawford's character.
“Everything released is one-sided. There is nothing favorable to John Crawford. You can’t show different pieces, show it all, don’t trickle pieces to gain favor of the public, “said Michael Wright, Crawford family attorney. Wright wants to see the release of events in chronological order.
Wright says the video shows Crawford standing in the direction of some shelves. He say Crawford was talking on his cell phone and probably did not see or hear the police officer sent to the store to investigate. He said in one frame you see Crawford on the phone, the next you see him on the floor.
Crawford’s father questions the timing of the state’s investigation.
“My main concern is the delay. What’s taking so long? I understand it’s a process, but frankly, I see stall tactics,” said John Crawford II [the decedent's father].
According to the family and its lawyers, the video supports their claim that John Crawford was on his cell phone talking to his girlfriend and doing nothing else when the police entered the store and shot him down for the crime of being Black and holding a toy gun in a Walmart.
Crawford was speaking by cell phone to his girlfriend, who was with his parents, when he was shot.The Grand Jury is set to begin hearing evidence regarding the Crawford shooting presented by the special prosecutor on September 22, 2014, assuming no further delays. Meanwhile, one of the police officers who shot Crawford is already back on the job, while the other one remains on administrative leave with pay.
“He said he was at the video games playing videos, and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were,” said LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two children. “The next thing I know, he said, ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting, and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him.”
Johnson put the phone on speaker mode, and she and Crawford’s parents heard him die.
“I could hear him just crying and screaming,” Johnson said. “I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”
It should be remembered that Mr. Crawford was not the only victim of this "incident." Another shopper, 37 year old Angela Williams "collapsed and died as she scrambled to get away after police fired at Crawford." All because of the claims made by 911 callers such as this one:
In one of those calls, which was released by police, a Wal-Mart shopper told emergency dispatchers that it looked like the man — later identified as Crawford — was trying to load the rifle and that he had pointed it at two children, WHIO reported.
The 911 caller’s wife said that Crawford was on the phone and that he was messing with the gun. She said that after police ordered Crawford to put down the unidentified weapon, “I heard two shots after I saw him turn. He still had the weapon in his hand.”
Considering the content of the video, and the fact that Crawford was a father of two children with his girlfriend (with the couple expecting a third child), I find that story a little hard to swallow. Sounds like panic by white shoppers and an unwarranted response by the police who shot a harmless man while he was talking on his phone. All because he was a scary black man. But what do I know.