John Crawford III, a 22-year-old black man, was shot and killed by police on August 5 — four days before Michael Brown — inside a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. Today, a grand jury decided the officers involved will not face criminal charges.
But surveillance video, shown publicly for the first time, shows the circumstances that led to yet another young black man dead at the hands of law-enforcement. While police were responding to reports of a man waving a gun in the store, the footage shows Crawford walking casually — talking on the phone — with an air soft rifle (a BB gun, essentially) that he picked up, un-boxed, from the Walmart shelves.
In the 911 call from a concerned customer, 24-year-old Ronald Ritchie, who is white, describes Crawford “walking around with a gun in the store … like, pointing it at people.” Later in the call, Ritchie says, “He just pointed it at, like, two children.” None of that is on the tape.
Just before the officers arrive, Crawford can be seen swinging the pellet gun nonchalantly with no one else in view. At one point, Crawford drops the gun and appears to fall, just as cops can be seen rushing toward him with their guns drawn. Seconds later, Crawford is dead:
According to the law-enforcement version of events, Crawford failed to drop the weapon when ordered, a claim lawyers for his family disputes. It all happened so fast, and the tape has no audio, so the officers’ alleged verbal commands cannot be heard.
Prosecutors said today that the grand jury considered charges of murder, reckless homicide, and negligent homicide, but decided on none of the above. It’s the third time in five years police in the county have fatally shot someone. None have faced charges.
Meanwhile, a Missouri grand jury has until January to bring charges against Ferguson police offer Darren Wilson in the killing of Brown. We’ll see.
This post has been updated throughout.