Grand jury gets case of Ohio man shot by police in Walmart store

This undated photo provided by his family shows John Crawford III, right, with his mother, Tressa Sherrod.  (AP Photo/Courtesy family of John Crawford III)

Story highlights

  • John Crawford III was shot, killed by police inside a Walmart in Ohio in August
  • Crawford was carrying an air rifle when he died
  • A grand jury has convened to review evidence in Crawford's August 5 death,
  • The death was ruled a homicide by the local medical examiner
Prosecutors in Ohio began presenting evidence to a grand jury on Monday in the August 5 death of Cincinnati man John Crawford III, shot and killed by police while carrying an air rifle in a Walmart store.
Police contend that Crawford, 22, was "waving a rifle-type weapon at customers, including children," according to statement from Beavercreek Police Capt. Eric Grile.
Michael Wright, who is representing Crawford's family, says Crawford picked up an unwrapped air rifle from a shelf inside the store in Beavercreek and was talking on the phone when he was confronted by police.
Witness Ronald Ritchie called 911 to report "a gentleman walking around with a gun in the store," according to a recording of the call.
Ritchie, who can be heard in 911 recordings released by the Beavercreek police department after the incident, says that a man was carrying what appeared to be a rifle, pointing it at people and "waving it back and forth."
Then, there are muffled screams heard on the 911 tape, and Ritchie says he heard gunshots in the store.
According to police, Crawford did not comply with police commands to drop the weapon.
Crawford died shortly after being transported to a nearby hospital. His death was ruled a homicide by gunshot wound to the torso, according to the local coroner's office.
"The quick response [by police] was instrumental in containing this situation and minimizing risks to customers," Grile said in a statement at the time.
The Ohio attorney general's office, which conducted the investigation into Crawford's death, has kept all details of its investigation under wraps pending the grand jury reviewing evidence and deciding whether charges should be filed. Surveillance video from inside the store has not been released to the public.
"Because it is an ongoing investigation, we have not released the video," Walmart spokesman Brian Nick told CNN.
Two police officers -- Sgt. David Darkow and Officer Sean Williams -- were placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting but Darkow has returned to active duty, according to Beavercreek city attorney Stephen McHugh.
The grand jury proceedings are expected to last several days, according to Hamilton County prosecutors, who are leading the team that is presenting evidence to the Greene County panel.
Beavercreek, where the incident occurred, is in Greene County outside Dayton.
"After all the evidence is presented, we would like to see an indictment handed down on the police officers," Crawford family attorney Wright told CNN.
Wright has continued to push for the public release of Walmart surveillance video from the incident, but law enforcement officials have asked the store not to release it publicly, Walmart spokesman Nick said.
"We are deeply saddened about the loss of life that occurred," Nick added. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of those involved."
Crawford was a high school graduate and father of two, according to his father, John Crawford Jr., who addressed the press shortly after his son's death.
"My son was not a monster. He was a loving father, he was a loving son," the elder Crawford said.
Wright said that both the victim's father and his mother, Tressa Sherrod were scheduled to testify before the grand jury on Monday.
The grand jury proceedings are expected to last several days, according to a statement by Hamilton County prosecutors.