A 22-year-old man was shot and killed last week in an Ohio Wal-Mart after failing to obey police officers’ orders to put down a bb/pellet rifle he was holding. Beavercreek police say officers followed proper protocol when they shot John Crawford III in the store. But Crawford’s family is speaking out, saying they believe the officers used excessive force against the young man, the Dayton Daily News reported.
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Crawford was holding a Crosman MK-177 air pump rifle as he walked through the store, WHIO, Dayton, reported. The weapon, which can shoot both pellets and BBs, had been removed from its original packaging. April and Ronald Ritchie told WHIO they were in the hardware section of the Wal-Mart when they saw Crawford walking with the air pump gun in his hand. They became alarmed and called 911 to report him.
Once on the scene, Beavercreek police Officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow located Crawford and instructed him to put down the replica rifle. When he didn’t comply, he was shot by the officers. Crawford died at a local hospital shortly after the shooting. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office ruled Friday Crawford died of a gunshot wound to the torso and listed his death as a homicide.
Speaking to the Daily News, LeeCee Johnson, 22, who identified herself as the mother of Crawford’s children, said she was talking to Crawford on her cell phone at the time of the shooting.
“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,” she said. She added she “could hear him just crying and screaming” and said officers “shot him down like he was not even human.”
Both Officer Williams and Sergeant Darkow are currently on administrative leave, Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers told a news conference. Evers said Beavercreek police support the “quick response” of the officers and “preliminary indications are that the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.”
But Crawford’s family is challenging the department’s claims. At a Sunday news conference, Crawford’s parents, John Crawford II and Tressa Sherrod, said they are seeking more clarity on the circumstances surrounding their son’s death.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation asked Wal-Mart to turn over all the footage from the Beavercreek store's nearly 120 cameras, the attorney’s general office said. Investigators have already received video from the cameras in the area of the store where the shooting occurred. Tasha Thomas, who identified herself as Crawford’s girlfriend, told the Daily News she drove Crawford to the Wal-Mart. She said he was not armed when he walked into the store. She was in another part of the store when he was shot.
A second Wal-Mart customer also died as frightened customers fled the area of the shooting, police said. Angela Williams, 37, was with her 9-year-old daughter and suffered a medical emergency as people attempted to flee the store. Her family is still waiting for autopsy results to determine the cause of her death.