John Crawford III was shot and killed by police in a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, earlier this month, after another shopper reported a man was carrying and waving around what he believed to be an AR-15 rifle. Crawford, 22-years-old and African American, was actually carrying an MK-177 BB/pellet gun that was still in the package.
Police reports said that Crawford ignored their orders to drop his weapon, and the man who called in the report and also witnessed the shooting said Crawford “looked like he was going to go violently.”
Surveillance footage from the store, however, shows this wasn’t the case.
Michael Wright, the attorney for Crawford’s family, was shown the footage by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and said “John was doing nothing wrong in Walmart, nothing more, nothing less than shopping.”
Wright said the footage showed Crawford facing away from officers, talking on his cellphone, and leaning on the pellet gun with the barrell of the gun pointed towards the floor, when he was “shot on sight” in a “militaristic” response by officers. He said the video shows that Crawford probably didn’t see or hear the police when they approached.
DeWine, who has assigned a special prosecutor to investigate the shooting, said earlier this week that he allowed Crawford’s family an opportunity to view the surveillance footage, but had no intentions of releasing the video to the media to prevent swaying the jury.
“I thought the family had the right to have the opportunity to view it,” DeWine said. “The mom did not want to view it; I fully understand that. The dad did; the dad viewed it. I thought that was something that we should do.”
When he was shot, Crawford was on the phone with his girlfriend — the mother of his two children — who was with his parents.
“He said he was at the video games playing … and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were,” said LeeCee Johnson. “The next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police started shooting, and they said ‘Get on the ground!’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him.”
Johnson said she had turned on the speakerphone, and that she and Crawford’s parents had heard the shooting.
“I could hear him just crying and screaming,” Johnson said. “I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”
Sgt. David Darkow, one of the police officers involved in the shooting, has already returned to work while the other officer, Sean Williams, remains on administrative leave.
Watch coverage from Dayton’s WDTN-TV.