Walmart Shooting Update: Dad On Phone Hears Son's Final Breaths

Bradley Ryder

A shooting at Walmart in Ohio that left a man dead still plagues the victim's father, who is still haunted by the sounds of his dying son taking his lasts breaths.

John Crawford Jr. sat down in an interview recently and talked about the day his son was shot and killed in a Beavercreek Walmart store. It was August 5, and as he does every week, stopped by his son's Fairfield home.

On this day, he hoped the two could have dinner. When he arrived, the mother of his son's children was frantic and holding a cellphone to her head. The next series of events involving the Ohio Walmart shooting would plague him to this day, as Gannett affiliate wrote on September 5 of the shooting victim.

"Mr. John. Mr. John. They shot him. They shot him," cried LeeCee Johnson, who activated the phone's speaker function as he arrived.

"You could hear in the background he was gasping. I'm virtually listening to my kid taking his last breath."

Tasha Thomas, who identified herself as a girlfriend, said they both split up briefly in the store, and before she knew it, police were yelling and ordering shoppers to evacuate the store. She made an attempt to regroup with Crawford III, to no avail. She later learned he was shot dead by cops.

However, she reported that he was not armed when they arrived at the Ohio Walmart store. His father agrees, and says the shooting was unjustified and based on race.

"The footage we saw, he didn't know the officers were in the store. There was no reaction (from him) at all by the time the trigger was pulled. We were waiting to see him menacing, waving this thing in a threatening position with women or children. None of that happened from the footage we saw. He wasn't doing anything. He was just standing there. The final analysis is that my son was murdered. All this nonsense of (them saying) 'Put the weapon down' two or three times. There was no reaction from him. There couldn't have been a cadence given."
"We was just talking. 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."

Information contained in the police report says officers learned the gun shoppers were in fear of was actually a toy rifle. This corroborates Johnson's claim that she heard the shooting victim telling them it "wasn't real" before they gunned him down.

The shooting at the Ohio Walmart attracted national attention on a number of fronts. It took place in close concert to the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen who was allegedly gunned down in broad daylight by a white police officer. These two cases, and others like them, sparked a social movement that seeks to halt the rising numbers of young black men dying at the hands of peace officers.

The death of the Ohio man brought on pressures from the public to enlist the services of a special prosecutor over possible conflicts of interest; the county prosecutor is the former city attorney and his daughter is an assistant there. Crawford Jr. believes race played a factor in the officers' decision to use excessive force against his son, and he wants murder charges filed.

A special prosecutor was retained in the Ohio Walmart shooting investigation, but the state's attorney is still connected to the case in some capacity. It's unknown if he will fully recuse himself.

[Image via: The Urban Daily]