Newly released video of the Ohio Walmart shooting on August 5 that killed 22-year-old dad of two John Crawford III appears to show that Crawford, who was carrying a toy gun he had picked up from a store shelf, was not threatening anyone with the fake gun — and in fact dropped the toy and fell to his knees before Beavercreek Police Officers opened fire, shooting him dead.
The in-store surveillance video was made public on Wednesday, after a grand jury refused to indict police officers David Darkow and Sean Williams, ruling that they used justifiable force in gunning down the unarmed Crawford — pictured above with his mother — who appears in the video to be in the process of surrendering, or attempting to surrender.
Before viewing the video, please be warned — the images it contains are disturbing and include the moment of the shooting, when Crawford is fatally gunned down by the police officers.
The video tracks Crawford as he wanders through the store, apparently preoccupied with a cell phone conversation with the mother of his two children. Crawford’s then-current girlfriend was also in the Walmart, shopping in the women’s clothing section, as Crawford strolled through the aisles by himself.
The video also shows the moment he picked up the toy rifle out of an open box on a Walmart store shelf. But as he walks, seemingly with no specific destination through the Walmart, he carries the children’s rifle at his side, pointed toward the floor.
At no point does the Walmart security video show Crawford pointing the gun at any other shopper or displaying it in a threatening manner at all.
The officers were responding to a 911 call from 24-year-old Ronald Ritchie, who told the 911 operator as well as the media in interviews after the shooting, that Crawford was “like, pointing it at people” and was also loading bullets into the gun, the latter of which would have been impossible because the gun was not real and did not accept bullets.
Ritchie later changed his story and said that he never saw Crawford threatening anyone with the gun. But the 911 caller did not explain why he told police that Crawford did so.
The case, similar to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, has gained national attention in part because the officers who killed Crawford, who was African-American, are both white, as is 911 caller Ritchie.
The legal standard for whether or not deadly force by a police officer is “justifiable” often relies upon an officer’s subjective “feeling” of being threatened, which means that an officer who “feels” that young, African-American men are threatening by their very nature may have a more lax standard of when use of deadly force is acceptable against them.
After the grand jury failed to return indictments in the Walmart shooting, the United States Justice Department said it would conduct its own investigation to determine whether Crawford’s civil rights were violated when police shot and killed him.