An Ohio grand jury has decided not to indict the police officers who shot and killed John Crawford, III inside a Beaverton, Ohio Walmart last month. You’ll recall that I mentioned Crawford’s death in an earlier post about Dante Parker who died while in police custody at around this same time. Just to refresh your memory, a guy called 9-1-1 to report a man pointing a gun at people inside of a busy Walmart. The caller described the gun as a rifle and said that he may have even been trying to load the weapon. Police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter, shot and killed John Crawford, III, a 22-year old father of two.
Was John Crawford’s Shooting Justified?
Now, you may say that this is what happens when you threaten people with a gun inside of a busy department store. Well, facts about the law and due process aside, consider this:
- The man who called 9-1-1 has since recanted his statement. He now says that Crawford was not pointing the gun at anyone.
- The gun was not real. It was a toy gun sold by Walmart that Crawford picked up from a shelf while he was there.
- Crawford was on the phone when police arrived. The mother of his two children says she was on the other end of that call. She maintains that he told police that the gun was not real, but that they shot at him anyway and then told him to get on the ground.
- Upon reviewing surveillance footage, the family’s attorney says that Crawford was facing the direction of a store shelf while talking on the phone and that it is possible that he may not have even known that the police were there.
- Police say that they shot him after he refused to obey their commands.
Now, officials originally refused to release the store’s surveillance footage to the public, but they have since done so. Take a look and tell me if John Crawford is pointing the gun at anyone, if other shoppers seem to appear threatened and if it looks as though he is disobeying police commands before he is shot:
Another rather troublesome point of interest in this story is that Ohio is an open carry state. This means that citizens have the right to openly carry guns in public. You may have seen proud gun advocates and NRA supporters displaying this right in several photographs shared online and on Instagram like these:
How is it, then, that a man who picks up a toy gun inside of a Walmart while shopping ends up being killed by police? And where are all of the open carry/NRA advocates now? Most importantly, however, how do we ever hope to stop the killing of unarmed civilians if police are automatically deemed to be correct in their actions and rarely, if EVER, held responsible? How are killings like John Crawford’s ever seen as justified?
We are a nation of laws. Laws that say that every citizen has the right to due process. That every citizen is innocent until proven guilty. And laws that say that, in some states, citizens are allowed to openly carry guns without the expectation of being lied on in 9-1-1 calls and gunned down by the police.
Where Is the Justice?
What is the difference between John Crawford having a gun in public and all of the people in the photos above? From the video, it appears that there wasn’t any standoff between Crawford and police and that they shot rather quickly. Something is not adding up here and if you have an answer for how this is a justified shooting, please let me know in the comments section below.