Doubts cast on witness’s account of black man killed by police in Walmart


‘He was stood so still’
Crawford was a high school graduate who had two young sons. On the evening of 5 August he was at the Walmart in a suburb of Dayton, with his girlfriend, Tasha Thomas. They were to buy ingredients to make S’mores for a family cookout, according to his family’s attorneys.

The couple separated inside the store. Crawford began a conversation on his mobile phone with LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two sons. Walking in the sporting goods section, he approached a shelf and picked up a MK-177 BB/pellet air rifle, which was already unboxed.

“He never put the phone down,” said his father. “He just kind of picked the rifle up and carried it, was walking around with it.”

From this point, the Crawford team’s description of what is shown in the surveillance footage differs radically from Ritchie’s recollection, which he insisted was also backed up by the recordings from the Walmart cameras.

Crawford’s father and attorneys said that the footage showed the 22-year-old walking from one aisle to the next with the BB rifle at his side and in his left hand, pointed at the floor except for one notable movement.

“I would think that the rifle maybe got heavy to him,” said his father. “He kind of swung it like you carry it on your shoulder, then he immediately put it back down.”

“You can clearly see people walk past him, and they didn’t think anything about it. Everybody was just kind of minding their own business,” his father added. “He wasn’t acting in any type of way that he would have been considered menacing, if you will.”

Ritchie, however, says Crawford was “waving the weapon around”, causing the muzzle to move in the direction of passersby, including him and his wife, April. “And even still, it’s a gun in Walmart, in a public place, inducing panic,” said Ritchie.

The Crawford family’s attorneys contend that Ohio’s “open-carry” law means that he could have been legally holding the rifle in the store even if it had been a full-powered firearm. “We never saw him waving this rifle in front of kids or people,” said his father.

Crawford arrived at the pet products section in the next aisle, estimated at 60 yards from where he had picked up the item. Then, his family and their attorneys say, at about 8.20pm, he stopped and stood still for about six minutes. “With the rifle pointed down and the cell phone up in his right hand,” said his father, he stayed there facing a shelf, apparently preoccupied by the call.

“He didn’t move,” said his father. “He was stood so still, in fact, we thought the track had actually stopped. I asked the technician ‘what’s going on?’ and he said ‘Well, the reel is still running Mr Crawford, look at the time’.”

Ritchie, on the other hand, stated that at this stage, Crawford was “pointing [the BB rifle] at things, like moving things around the shelf with the gun.”

At about 8.26pm, armed police officers responding to Ritchie’s 911 call five minutes earlier come into view on the footage, according to those who viewed it. Within seconds, Crawford was shot twice and pounced on. He was taken to hospital but died from his wounds.


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