Officers Will Not Face Charges in "SWATing" Shooting Death of John Crawford III

John Crawford III was shot and killed while holding an airsoft rifle while on the phone in a Dayton, Ohio Walmart.
John Crawford III was shot and killed while holding an airsoft rifle while on the phone in a Dayton, Ohio Walmart.
John Crawford III was shot and killed while holding an BB gun while on the phone in a Dayton, Ohio Walmart.

Ronald Ritchie allegedly exaggerated the details of what he witnessed in a 911 call, where he apparently suggested that a man with an assault rifle was a threat walking around a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart. Two Beavercreek police officers showed up and shot the man—who was holding a BB gun sold by the store—almost immediately.


The man died.

It appears possible that John Crawford III was shot without realizing that police were even there.

Now it appears that no one will face charges for his death, in what appears to be a gross miscarriage of justice.

A special grand jury has cleared police officers in the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Fairfield man at a Beavercreek Wal-Mart, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he is turning the investigative files over to the U.S. Department of Justice for a review.

Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said the Greene County grand jury in Xenia found the police were justified when they shot John Crawford III as he walked around the store holding a pellet gun and talking on his cellphone on Aug. 5.

A 911 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle in the store.

Police said he didn’t obey commands to put down what turned out to be an air rifle he apparently had taken off a shelf.

“That was really the question for this jury,” Piepmeier said at a press conference in Xenia. “Was the officer reasonable to think himself or someone else would receive physical harm?”

“The law says police officers are judged by what is in their mind at the time,” he said. “You have to put yourself in their shoes at that time with the information they had.”


Video of the incident is going to be released “soon.”

Crawford family members have seen the tape and said that Crawford was on the phone talking to the mother of his children, and that officers at his back opened fire from behind when he didn’t respond to commands. Crawford was allegedly shot because he was facing away from officers, and wasn’t moving.

Let that sink in.

If the video shows that it is true, and that Crawford was not shot because he was a threat, but because he was deeply engrossed in a conversation and didn’t hear someone talking behind him, then criminal charges are warranted on both the state and federal level for the responding officers.

No civilian could dream of getting away with shooting someone from behind who was simply standing there, and if the law allows police officers to shoot someone for simply standing there and not acknowledging an officer’s presence, then we have a significant problem with both the way officers are trained, and how the law allows officers to go “hot” without adequate justification.

The decision not to file criminal charges against Ronald Ritchie in what appears to have been a SWATting is equally deplorable. If he had not called 911 and grossly exaggerated what he thought he saw, then there wouldn’t have been any incident at all. Other Walmart shoppers saw Crawford walking with the BB gun and apparently ignored him, considering him non-threatening. His appears to have been the only 911 call placed before officers arrived and opened fire.


The evidence presented to the state grand jury will be turned over the the Department of Justice for review. If they aren’t too busy trying to railroad George Zimmerman on trumped up charges and whipping up racial hatreds in Ferguson, Missouri over the fallout from the Michael Brown shooting, they might discover that they have a civil rights case here that actually deserves their attention.

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