XENIA — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that a special grand jury will convene Sept. 3 to review the officer-involved shooting at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart Aug. 5. That grand jury will meet at the Greene County Courthouse in Xenia and will determine if any criminal indictments will be returned as a result of the incident. DeWine said a “use of force” expert will be called in as part of the review.
DeWine said not to read into anything about the fact that a grand jury is being used to review the incident, calling it his “general practice” whenever there’s an officer-involved shooting.
“Different prosecutors do different things about what is referred to as officer-involved shootings,” he said. “There’s no way that’s right or wrong.”
In the incident in question, John Crawford III, 22, of Cincinnati, was shot by Beavercreek police officers after he allegedly waved an air rifle – later identified as a Crosman MK-177, a .177 caliber BB/pellet rifle – at store customers.
A release from the Beavercreek Police Department said that Crawford was shot after he failed to comply with the verbal commands of the officers. He was transported to Miami Valley Hospital where he died shortly after arrival.
DeWine said that he showed Crawford’s father (John Crawford Jr.) a portion of the Wal-Mart surveillance video. Crawford and his attorney Michael Wright later confirmed this. Six minutes of footage around the time of the shooting were shown.
“After viewing the video, it is confirmed what we believed that John H. Crawford III was murdered while he was a customer in Wal-Mart,” Wright said.
Crawford said he “saw his son get murdered by law enforcement.”
Wright would not get into the specifics of what was seen in the video, but said Crawford was “doing nothing wrong when this occurred.”
DeWine stressed that the BCI’s investigation is ongoing. BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) was called in to do an independent investigation of the incident by Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers the morning after the incident occurred.
“It is not yet complete, although we have made significant progress,” DeWine said. He said crime scene agents have taken over 200 pictures, collected at least 11 pieces of physical evidence and are creating multiple diagrams of the scene.
DeWine said 50 witnesses have been interviewed and estimated that between 25 and 30 more interviews will need to be conducted. He also said that 260,000 individual electronic files of footage from 203 Wal-Mart cameras are being reviewed.
“As attorney general it is my duty to make sure that this investigation is comprehensive and thorough,” he said. “At the same time, people understandably want answers. And we’re moving as quickly as we can to complete our investigation.
“I might point out that we are not done reviewing all the video,” he said. Further, he said that the video will be released eventually, but that no decision has been made at this point about when it will be released.
According to DeWine, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Haller asked that lawyers in DeWine’s office act as special prosecutors in reviewing the incident.
After being asked if this incident was one of the hardest things he’s had to deal with in his career as a public servant, DeWine paused for a few moments before he responded: “I think this is the only day since I’ve been the attorney general that I wish I wasn’t attorney general.”
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Greene County agencies and organizations. You can find him on Twitter at @XDGNatePilling or you can call him at 937-502-4498.