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Courts and Crime


Feds take over as Ohio grand jury clears police in Walmart shooting
Note: This story includes a link to the graphic surveillance video of the shooting
Story by WYSO'S JERRY KENNEY


 
Demonstrators pray outside the Greene County Courthouse.
Courtesy of Wayne Baker, WYSO
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A grand jury in Greene County has found that the actions of officers involved in the Beavercreek Walmart Shooting were justified. In response, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will investigate.
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Twenty-two-year-old John Crawford III was fatally shot by police in the store the evening of August 5th. A 9-1-1 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle. Police said he didn't obey commands to put down what turned out to be an air rifle BB-gun.

Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier says the Greene County grand jury opted not to issue any indictments in the case. Assistant prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid says the grand jury had access to photographic and video evidence and heard from 18 witnesses.

“I definitely think a thorough investigation was done," DeGraffenreid said following a press conference Wednesday.

Statement for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on today's developments:

“Our top priority is to ensure that justice is served and that such a tragedy never happens again. The Department of Justice is right to conduct an independent investigation into this shooting, which has rightly raised alarm in the community. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of John Crawford III."

Investigators have also released surveillance video from inside the Walmart store the night Crawford was shot, which shows him walking in the pet food aisle and talking on his cellphone when he's approached by police. The surveillance video, which is graphic, is available on WHIO's website.

John Crawford's death has become the object of national attention. He is black and the 9-1-1 caller and shooting officers are white, and national and local organizations have been framing the shooting as an issue of racial justice. Wednesday wrapped up the third day of a three-day protest and teach-in in Xenia, where the Greene County Courthouse is located. Protesters had been calling for the release of the video and for federal involvement.

Gov. John Kasich's statement on the decision:

“After talking with the Attorney General and watching the video myself, I agree with his decision that a review by the U.S. Department of Justice is appropriate.  This is a tragedy for the Crawford family and I share the concern of many in the community that this matter must be handled with the utmost seriousness and respect.  I’ve consulted with local leaders, including leaders in the African American community, and I applaud the example they have set of calm, restraint and patience.” 

"It’s clear there is no justice to be found here in Greene County. We are saddened by the decision the grand jury made but not surprised," said James Hayes with the Ohio Student Association.

As of Wednesday, federal investigators have announced they will review the case. The Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, and the FBI say they will look at whether any U.S. law was violated. Crawford family members, as well as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Governor John Kasich, have all asked for federal involvement.

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