Despite surveillance video showing a man never raised an air rifle at anybody before he was shot and killed by police in an Ohio Walmart last month, a grand jury declined to indict the officers today, confirming once again that police in this country have a license to kill.
John Crawford III, 22, was inside the Walmart talking to the mother of his children on the phone when he picked up a Crossman MK-177 air pump rifle that somebody had taken out of its box and left in an aisle before continuing to walk around the store while remaining on the phone.
Another man, Ronald Ritchie, saw Crawford with the gun and called 911, claiming he was “loading it right now” and “pointing it at people.”
Beavercreek police stormed the store with rifles pointed and shot him dead before yelling, “get on the ground!”.
Crawford’s last words were, “it’s not real,” according to the mother of his children.
Nevertheless, Ohio is an open carry state. And although Walmart sells guns, it does not allow the open carrying of guns, even in open carry states.
But that still doesn’t excuse the cops from killing him.
After the shooting, police began with the usual spin claiming they were in fear for their lives and only wanted to keep everybody safe, despite the fact that a woman unrelated to the incident died of a heart attack as she was trying to rush out the store after the shots were fired.
Ritchie later said he thought the gun was an AR-15, which is why he feared for everybody’s safety.
But he also recanted his initial claims that Crawford was pointing the gun at people when drilled a month later by the Guardian.
When Ronald Ritchie called 911 from the aisles of a Walmart in western Ohio last month to report that a black man was “walking around with a gun in the store”, he said that shoppers were coming under direct threat.
“He’s, like, pointing it at people,” Ritchie told the dispatcher. Later that evening, after John Crawford III had been shot dead by one of the police officers who hurried to the scene in Beavercreek, Ritchie repeated to reporters: “He was pointing at people. Children walking by.”
One month later, Ritchie puts it differently. “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” the 24-year-old said, in an interview with the Guardian. He maintained that Crawford was “waving it around”, which attorneys for Crawford’s family deny.
Ritchie told several reporters after the 5 August shooting that he was an “ex-marine”. When confronted with his seven-week service record, however, he confirmed that he had been quickly thrown out of the US marine corps in 2008 after being declared a “fraudulent enlistment”, over what he maintains was simply a mixup over his paperwork.
Crawford, 22, turned out to be holding an unloaded BB air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf. After Ritchie said Crawford appeared to be “trying to load” the gun, the 911 dispatcher relayed to an officer that it was believed the gunman “just put some bullets inside”.
For more than a month, Ohio’s attorney general refused to release the video, claiming it would be “playing with dynamite,” which was an indicator that the shooting was unjustified.
However, leave it to a grand jury to forgive police murders because they are usually clueless puppets controlled by the prosecutor.
According to the Associated Press:
Officers’ actions were justified in the fatal shooting of a man holding an air rifle inside an Ohio Wal-Mart store, a grand jury determined Wednesday — using surveillance video the slain man’s family said shows the shooting was completely unjustified.
The Greene County grand jury opted not to issue any indictments in the Aug. 5 death of 22-year-old John Crawford III inside a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said.
A 911 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle in the store. Police said he was killed after failing to obey commands to put down what turned out to be an air rifle taken from a shelf.
Since the shooting, Crawford’s family had demanded public release of the surveillance footage, a request denied until Wednesday by the state attorney general, who said releasing it earlier could taint the investigation and potential jury pool.
Video presented at a news conference by Piepmeier in Xenia shows Crawford walking the aisles, apparently on his cellphone, and picking up an air rifle that had been left, unboxed, on a shelf.
Crawford carries the air rifle around the store — sometimes over his shoulder, sometimes pointed at the ground — before police arrive and shoot him twice.
The video was also released today and shows that prior to Crawford being shot, he had picked up the rifle in an aisle and walked though the store, not seeming to cause any alarm from other shoppers. Surely, drawing less attention than open carry activists who have carried their real guns into stores in open carry states like Texas, taking photos and videos of themselves walking the aisles.
But those guys tend to be white and Crawford is black and that evidently makes all the difference in the world.