Family wants US to probe in Wal-Mart shooting
CINCINNATI (AP) — The family of a black man fatally shot by police while holding an air rifle inside a Wal-Mart called on the U.S. Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation and assess whether the shooting was justified and whether race played a factor.
An attorney for the family of 21-year-old John Crawford III criticized the state of Ohio’s handling of the case and Tuesday’s announcement that a veteran prosecutor is leading the investigation and would present evidence to a special grand jury on Sept. 22.
Crawford was fatally shot on Aug. 5 at a Wal-Mart in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek. The two officers involved are white.
A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday that the U.S. Justice Department typically decides whether to get involved after the state’s case is finished.
Police have said the shooting was justified because Crawford was waving the air rifle at customers and refused their commands to drop it. One of the officers involved has since returned to duty.
An attorney for the Crawford family, Michael Wright, said that Crawford was innocently holding an air rifle that was for sale in the store while talking on the phone, “doing nothing more or less than shopping.”
Wright said that Wal-Mart surveillance footage that DeWine showed to him and Crawford’s father proved that the shooting wasn’t justified.
The family renewed their request Tuesday for the release of the surveillance video to the public, saying the investigation is moving too slowly.
“My main concern is: What’s the delay? What’s taking so long?” Crawford’s father, John Crawford Jr. said. “Frankly, I see stall tactics.”
DeWine declined to release store surveillance video of the shooting to the public, saying that could compromise the investigation.
Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell contributed to this report.
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