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Outrage in Ohio: As Video Is Released Showing Police Killing John Crawford, Grand Jury Decides Not to Indict Officers

On the same day that an Ohio grand jury decided not to indict police officers for killing 22-year-old John Crawford III at a Wal-Mart near Dayton, authorities released surveillance footage from the Wal-Mart that seems to directly contradict the contention that Crawford posed a threat to anyone.

Though it doesn’t have sound, the video presents a shocking display of how quickly the officers appeared to take the young Black man’s life without giving him any opportunity to explain why he was holding a toy gun in the middle of a store that sells toy guns.

The grand jury’s decision Wednesday will be disturbing to many African-Americans who have been alleging all summer that too many American police forces don’t value the lives of African-Americans as highly as other groups. Some may also see it as a sign that the St. Louis grand jury considering whether to file charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teen Michael Brown will ultimately decide to let the officers go.

It is difficult to reconcile the actions of the police inside the Beavercreek Wal-Mart with the state of Ohio’s status as a traditional open-carry state, meaning citizens are allowed to openly carry long guns and handguns that they legally possess without any special license. So the fact that Crawford was standing in the Wal-Mart with what police believed to be a real gun in his hands should not have prompted the cops to open fire. What the entire incident points to is the incredible dangers inherent in an open-carry law — dangers that are especially potent for African-American males — and how such a law could spur police to exhibit overly aggressive behavior.

The Aug. 5 incident was precipitated by a phone call from a white man, Ronald Ritchie, who originally told police that Crawford had a gun and was “pointing it at people” and “like loading [the gun] right now.”

On the call, 24-year-old Ritchie, who was originally described as an “ex-Marine,” said a Black man was walking around the store with the weapon. He also told the 911 dispatcher that he saw Crawford loading bullets into the supposed weapon.

It’s easy to see how police, hearing such alarming descriptions from a witness, would arrive on the scene ready to open fire at a dangerous gunman.

But in an interview with The Guardian, Ritchie retracted his story, saying, “at no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody.”

In the Guardian interview, Ritchie defended his 911 call: “Even still, it’s a gun in Wal-Mart, in a public place, inducing panic.”

Apparently Ritchie isn’t aware of Ohio’s open-carry law.

“Somebody’s going to have to explain to me how anybody goes into Wal-Mart and ends up dead,” John Crawford Jr., the dead man’s father, told NBC News. “It appears that we have an epidemic in the United States of America where young Black men are being slain by white police officers, and nothing is being done about it. And we need to stop that now.”

LeeCee Johnson, the 22-year-old’s girlfriend and the mother of his two children, said she heard the entire incident because she was on the phone with him as it happened.

“We was just talking,” she told the Dayton Daily News. “He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And 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. … And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”

Crawford is seen in the video calmly standing at the end of the aisle, holding the toy gun in his right hand with it primarily pointed toward the floor while he apparently talked on the phone. There are no other people in the aisle, so there’s no way anyone could see his actions as any kind of threat.

After about 50 seconds on the video, Crawford suddenly moved forward and dropped the gun. As officers advanced on him, Crawford seemed to move toward them, then he turned away and fell to his knees, apparently because they were shooting him. Then he fell on his back with his legs splayed out.

As with the video of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Kajieme Powell in St. Louis, it is extremely disturbing to view the final moment of this man’s life, snuffed out so quickly by police when he appeared to be doing nothing at all to warrant it.

Though the grand jury said “No” to charging the officers, it would be tragic if videos like this one don’t push police executives across the nation to reassess how officers are trained.

WARNING: Graphic content. Wal-Mart surveillance video of John Crawford III before he was shot by Beavercreek police Aug. 5. This video has been edited for time.

What people are saying

23 thoughts on “Outrage in Ohio: As Video Is Released Showing Police Killing John Crawford, Grand Jury Decides Not to Indict Officers

  1. Joseph Tolman says:

    Ice Cube had it right. FTP.

  2. Are blacks beginning to get the message now? Blacks have no rights, white racist are bound to respect. They felt that way hundreds of years ago, and they still feel the same way today. What do we do? We need to get away, or are we going to allow them to continue to treat us like this? They need to pay reparations now. Until blacks stand up and demand reparations, they are not going to pay us. Especially when some blacks that do not know what happened, making nonsense statement, saying we are not owed or they don't have to pay us, because, they say, look at all the opportunities we have to make it. Make it how?

  3. Kat Silentbutdeadly says:

    Just heartbreaking that he lost his life over a lie. Charge the caller.

  4. Greg Hays says:

    Yes the caller should at least be charged with making false police report and murder at the most, but will not convict, not when they refused to indict police who are supposely trained to uphold the law for for an odvious breech in duty if not a murderous double standard in enforcement of th law!!!

  5. Black people need to start packaging their bags and start applying for asylum in other countries. It's time to get the hell up out of here.

  6. Jackie Linton says:

    Charge the caller and the police.

  7. Celina Anderson says:

    F****** hell… he was doing nothing wrong! They don't even give the man proper warning, a chance to put the pellet gun down and his hands up, before they go in guns-a- blazin'. No wonder so many black people do not trust the police, nor should they be expected to. Yet another senseless murder, swept under the rug.

    I don't know enough about the justice system in the USA, as I'm Canadian, but is there any other recourse in criminal law to bring John Crawford III's killers to justice? If not, I hope that his family sues Walmart, the PD, and the officers into the ground. Walmart won't feel much pain, financially, but I'd hope that the PD will think extra hard about their racist procedures if they're hit in a way that they won't want to be hit, again.

  8. Start with an official apology from the United States of America for having slaves and for an on going mistreatment by a system design to keep a group of people at a disadvantage. That alone would help open up the possibility of restitution and meaningful compensation for a complete wrong administered to blacks of this nation. African Americans need to be united on this issue.

  9. You know I hate to say it but I am seriously thing about it.

  10. I wouldn't mind at all considering another country. Nope not at all. I was just talking about it today. If I am thinking I should move on then how many others are feeling this way. The asylum should be open and stay open for some years to come for all those that care to leave.

  11. Eusebia Chevi Anselmo says:

    This is some bull crap!! It is not only outrages african americans it outrages any American with some kind of sense!! These officers need to be prosecuted without giving there side of there story just as this poor kid didn't get a chance to say anything before being gunned down for no reason!!!

  12. Tyrone Givens says:

    There is no other recourse. Police in the states have immunity.

  13. Dave Mills says:

    I've said it before and I'll say it again they are LICENSED KILLERS that's it!

  14. Greg Hays says:

    Well it did not seem to outrage the grand jury that decided not to indict, the police will look at it and say they followed proper procedure. So either all these Americans have no sense or this is what they want and encourage the police to do to Black People! You get one guess!!!

  15. Wow I Like It 2. My husband is Ghanaian. That's where I got married and resided for some months. In the near future that's where I will be.

  16. Eusebia Chevi Anselmo says:

    Yes i know Greg Hayes i said people with any sense. Apparently the grand jury has none!

  17. Bridget Miller says:

    Tyrone Givens That's not true. There was just another incident in SC where a man was getting out of his vehicle to go into a gas station. A cop pulled up and told him to give him is license. When he reached back in his vehicle to get his wallet, the cop shot him. Luckily, the shot wasn't fatal and it was caught on video. That officer has been fired and is facing up to 20 years in prison. It's just excrutiatingly difficult here to prove that the police did something wrong.

  18. Bridget the irony is this, it seems as if when we die officers are rewarded as in this case. When we do not die they are punished as in the SC case you are speaking of. This has happened many times.

  19. Celina Anderson says:

    Bridget Miller , there were 3, maybe 4 seconds between when the police would have potentially been in his line of sight, and when they shot him. They gave him no time, no option, to put the toy gun down. The caller's word should have been taken as allegation, as any civilian call should be, first of all. Second, dispatch should have called the Walmart to verify information such as what was going on on their cameras, did they sell anything that could be mistaken for a weapon, could the store employees safely and quietly usher people from at LEAST that area of the store (logic would hold that if anyone was feeling LEGITIMATELY threatened by Crawford and able to move away and inform an employee, they would, and the police should have ascertained that he was not holding anyone hostage before opening fire on him, lest they harm anyone other than the alleged gun-wielder).

    That's the other thing: the same legwork that they should have done to determine if he was an actual threat, is what would have also ensured that no (other) innocents might be harmed by stray gunfire. The way that they acted was like they were on their first day on the job. They had plenty of stuff to cower behind while they shouted at him to put the gun down, but didn't. The idea of police mowing down anyone on the remotest chance that the officers might face personal risk is no reason to preemptively gun down another human being. The police aren't supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner. They shouldn't deny people due process, just because they're scared to do a risky job that they willingly signed up for.

  20. Bridget Miller Kareem your are absolutely correct they get punished if the person is not dead… true

  21. Bridget Miller says:

    Celina Anderson Right. And the cop should have been charged along with the POS who called 911 and lied. My response above was that in the States, cops can be held responsible for a bad shooting but it's really hard to prove–in this case even with video evidence. On another site I stated that I'd feel much more comfortable in a store if I saw a black man carrying a gun than a cop since the cops seem to be so trigger happy lately and unconcerned about collateral damage to other people in the vicinity.

  22. Heather Kavanagh says:

    This is so fucked up! These police should not have gone after him like this. They did not even warn him or tell him to put down the weapon they just shot him! This is not right!

  23. Lisa Atampuri I studied about Ghana last week. It is a nice place over all! You are very fortunate. Much success to you and your husband.

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