XENIA — Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller provided some clarity about the grand jury process that will occur in relation to the officer-involved shooting at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart Aug. 5.
That grand jury was announced by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at a press conference in Xenia Tuesday afternoon. That grand jury will meet starting Sept. 3 at the Greene County Courthouse and will determine if any criminal indictments will be returned as a result of the shooting of John Crawford III.
“It’s a constitutional process in the state of Ohio that requires that any potential felony case be reviewed by a county grand jury,” Haller said of the grand jury process. “A grand jury is different in that it’s a legal process that occurs before someone is publicly indicted.”
A grand jury generally consists of 9-14 people and has a lower evidentiary threshold (probable cause) than does the standard petit jury (reasonable doubt). In a grand jury, seven jurors must be convinced that there is probable cause to believe that a felony has taken place for a charge to be filed. Evidence is presented by the prosecutor during secret proceedings.
In this case, special prosecutors from DeWine’s office will present the evidence at Haller’s request. Haller’s office would have presented the case, but Haller instead requested that DeWine’s office take over.
“We work with the Beavercreek Police Department every day,” Haller said. “We have a very close working relationship as a matter of necessity. We’re trying to avoid the appearance of any kind of bias or impropriety, and so I called on the attorney general, and he accepted the task.”
Jurors will be selected from the Greene County registered voting list. Potential jurors will be called in to appear Sept. 3 when a judge and prosecutor will question potential jurors to determine their suitability for the jury.
DeWine said Tuesday 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 that will be reviewed, 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.
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.