Michael Brown was one of several black men shot dead by police over the last few weeks. Another was 22-year-old John Crawford III, shot inside a Wal-Mart while carrying a BB gun he picked up in the toy aisle of the store.
Police said Crawford was waving the rifle at customers, but Crawford’s lawyer said store surveillance video shows Crawford was just holding the BB gun he likely intended to buy.
The lawyer, Michael Wright, was shown several minutes from the store’s surveillance video this week and said the video makes clear that Wright was minding his own business when police arrived at the store. Wright told Ronald Martin on his podcast the BB gun was “out of the package just sitting there on the shelf” when Crawford picked it up. “At this point we believe that he was purchasing the air gun,” he said. The model of BB gun Crawford was holding, known as a variable air pump rifle, is designed for target-shooting and small game-hunting but designed to look like a real, more deadly weapon. It’s not clear whether officers knew it was a BB gun.
Wright said Crawford walked from one aisle to another while he was on his cell phone having a conversation.
The police were called by a customer in the store who reported someone wielding a gun. “When the police came … the BB gun was in a down position,” Wright said. “He was kinda using the BB gun as what it looked like was a crutch. He was just leaning on it. And at some point, he raised it up and he was shot and killed. At no point in time was he facing the officers. At no point in time was there any type of suggestive movements or anything like that.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine agreed to show Wright and Crawford’s family the video after some 100 individuals demonstrated outside DeWine’s office calling for release of the video, the Associated Press reported. He said he would not immediately release the video to the general public, pointing to the ongoing investigation.
But on Thursday, the Associated Press reported that one of the two officers involved in the shooting has been allowed to return to work. The other office remains on administrative leave, and officials have not provided details about the role each of the two officers played in the shooting.
LeeCee Johnson, the mother of Crawford’s children, told the Dayton Daily News that she was on the phone with Crawford just prior to the shooting, and that he told her he was in the toy section when he said, “It’s not real.” She said she heard police say “get on the ground” before the gunshots. “I could hear him just crying and screaming,” she said. “I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”
DeWine said the case would be presented on Sept. 3 to a grand jury. That panel will decide whether to indict the officers.