The Justice Department has announced that they will review the shooting death of John Crawford III, a 22-year-old African-American man who was killed in an Ohio Wal-Mart store in early August.
A grand jury on Wednesday found that the the police officers who shot and killed Crawford in an Ohio Wal-Mart in August were “justified” in their actions, and the jury decided not to indict the officers.
Following the grand jury’s announcement, the Justice Department issued a press release saying that the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will conduct a review of the facts and circumstances around Crawford’s death. “The Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the FBI will conduct a thorough and independent review of the evidence and take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes,” the release said.
Last month, Crawford was shot and killed by police officers in Beavercreek, Ohio, while shopping in a local Wal-Mart store. He was unarmed, but picked up a BB gun off the shelf, prompting another customer to call the police to the store. Police claimed that when Crawford refused to comply with their orders to drop what they perceived to be a weapon, they opened fire.
The Greene Country Special Grand Jury met for two days this week to review evidence in the case, the findings of which were announced on Wednesday morning. Mark Piepmeier, the special prosecutor appointed to handle the case, announced Wednesday in a press conference that the grand jury reviewed hours of evidence and heard from 18 different witnesses, and Piepmeier said the grand jury cleared Sean Williams and David Darkow, the two officers who were were involved in Crawford’s death.
Crawford’s family had been fighting for the public release of the surveillance tapes from Wal-Mart since early August. A Wal-Mart spokesperson told msnbc earlier this month that the tapes had been turned over to authorities, but would not be released to the public while the investigation was ongoing. Some of the store’s surveillance video was played by authorities at the news conference today.
In a statement, the Crawford family’s attorney, Michael Wright, said the family is “heartbroken” that the officers involved in their son’s killing were not indicted. “It is absolutely incomprehensible that Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams was NOT indicted for the unlawful killing of John H. Crawford, lll. It makes absolutely no sense that an unarmed 22-year-old man would be killed doing what any American citizen does every day: shopping at a Walmart store,” Wright said. He also said that the Wal-Mart surveillance video and eyewitness accounts “prove that the killing of John H. Crawford, lll was not justified and was not reasonable.”