CINCINNATI – An attorney for the family of a man fatally shot by police at a Wal-Mart store said Tuesday that surveillance video of the shooting shows it was unjustified, and the state’s top lawman said a special grand jury will begin considering whether charges are appropriate against the officers.
Attorney Michael Wright, who represents the family of 21-year-old John Crawford III, said in a statement that surveillance video of the shooting “showed that absolutely this young man … was killed without justification or cause.”
Police in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek said they shot Crawford on Aug. 5 at the Wal-Mart after he waved an air rifle at customers and refused officers’ orders to drop it.
Wright said that the video shows that’s “absolutely incorrect” and that Crawford was simply holding in one hand his cellphone and in the other hand an air rifle he had picked up off a store shelf and intended to buy.
A Beavercreek police spokesman did not immediately respond to messages for comment Tuesday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, provided material to law enforcement officials for their investigation.
Wright spoke about the surveillance video shortly after a meeting with state Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is investigating the shooting.
Following a Monday protest of the shooting outside DeWine’s office demanding that surveillance video be released, DeWine said he showed Crawford’s relatives and their attorney 4 minutes of footage of the shooting.
DeWine said the video would not immediately be released to the public and declined to discuss details of what it showed. He emphasized that the investigation was ongoing and no conclusions have been made.
“Trust the system,” DeWine said. “There will be ample time later for people to criticize what is done, and I’m fully aware of that, but let the judicial process work.”
DeWine said that on Sept. 3 a special grand jury will begin considering whether charges against Beavercreek officers would be appropriate.
He said his investigators would work as quickly as possible to within two weeks turn over to the grand jury evidence including more than 200 photos of the shooting scene, interviews of more than 75 witnesses, 911 recordings and video footage from as many as 203 cameras inside the Wal-Mart.
“We have an obligation to leave no stone unturned and do everything we can to get that evidence in,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people on this case, and they’ve been working very, very hard, and they’re going to continue to do that.”
The FBI’s office in Cincinnati, an hour’s drive southwest of Beavercreek, said it would be monitoring the state’s investigation.
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