An Ohio grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old John Crawford III at a Beavercreek Walmart on Aug. 5, Special Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier announced today.
On the night of his death, Crawford was seen walking around inside Walmart with what appeared to be a long gun. A 911 call was placed from the store and Beavercreek police officers Sean Williams and Sergeant David Darkow responded to the scene. When they encountered Crawford, he allegedly refused to put down the weapon and was shot twice by the police. The gun would later be revealed to be a toy pellet gun.
Piepmeier showed surveillance video from the store to the media on Wednesday that shows Crawford carrying the toy weapon inside the Walmart and the moment he was shot by police.
"This case is a tragedy for the family and for the police officers who were justified to take a life," said Piepmeier.
Crawford's death gained national attention after NAACP leaders and the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke out about the shooting and called for the release of the surveillance footage.
Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine declined the public's request to release the surveillance video earlier pending the grand jury's decision.
The grand jury saw the Walmart video and heard the 911 calls from the store and testimony from 18 people before ultimately declining to indict the officers.
The Walmart video footage appears to show Crawford confronted by police in the store and shot while he is holding the toy pellet gun. (Warning: graphic):
Following the announcement of the grand jury decision, the city of Beavercreek released a statement supporting it and stating that the officers did what they were trained to do to protect the public:
"The events of August 5th were tragic and we wish the outcome of that evening had been different. However, based on the information the responding officers had and Mr. Crawford's failure to comply with the responding officers orders, the officers did what they were trained to do to protect the public. The officers followed accepted law enforcement training protocol in their response to the report of an active threat in the Wal-Mart store. The grand jury review of the evidence and subsequent no bill decision indicates the officers' actions were not of a criminal nature and justified under Ohio law."
"Although the state review process has been concluded, in keeping with the Beavercreek Police Department's Organizational Values and our desire to uphold the public trust, City Manager, Michael A. Cornell and Police Chief Dennis Evers are requesting the Federal Bureau of Investigation conduct a separate review of the Beavercreek Police Department's actions in this case to determine if there were any civil rights violations. The Beavercreek Police Department will cooperate fully with the FBI during this process. Until the conclusion of the review of the FBI's recommendations by the Department of Justice, Officer Sean Williams will be assigned administrative desk duty within the police department."
"The City will have no further comment pending the Department of Justice review."
The Ohio attorney general's office also released a statement on the grand jury's decision:
"The Ohio Attorney General's Office respects the work completed by the grand jury in Greene County. Now that the state criminal investigation has finished, it is an appropriate time for the United States Department of Justice to look into whether any federal laws were violated during this shooting. BCI has been in frequent contact with the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office throughout its investigation and will turn over requested investigative files to the Department of Justice."