Grand Jury Is Seated In Walmart Shooting Case As Demonstrators Rally
A special grand jury has been seated at the Greene County Courthouse in Xenia in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old John Crawford III inside of a Beavercreek Walmart. About 200 people attended a rally outside of the courthouse.
Organizers estimate around 90 people marched from the Beavercreek Walmart to the courthouse Monday carrying placards asking for justice for John Crawford. Aaliyah Shariff of the Ohio Student Organization, the group that organized the rally, called it a journey for justice.
"We're here to really put national pressure on the sytematic polices that have wronged black and brown youth," Shariff said.
Xenia native Jovan Webster told the demonstrators that police should be better trained in order to handle conflicts like the one that resulted in Crawford's death.
"We understand not all police officers are bad nor corrupt, but we do also realize that law enforcement officers need clear rules and proper training procedures to focus more on fully assessing the situations and not reverting to the use of racial profiling," Webster said.
Pastor John Freeman of the United AME Church, addressed the crowd and called for change, while asking protestors to remain peaceful. He said that many of the out-of-town demonstrators will be housed at the church to help maintain peace and safety.
"I believe that some good is going to come out of this. Some good is necessary to come out of this because this has got to stop. This kind of action has got to stop," said Freeman.
John Crawford III was shot by police on Aug. 5 inside of the store after a 9-1-1 call was made alleging that he was waving a rifle at customers inside of the store. Police say when they arrived, Crawford was told to put the gun down, but didn't follow orders to do so. Later, evidence came out that showed he was carrying a BB gun/air rifle that is sold in the store. Crawford's family's attorney has said Crawford was not waving the gun, but holding it while talking on his cell phone when he was shot.
A store surveillance tape captured what happened inside of the store and Crawford's family along with Attorney General Mike DeWine have viewed it. The tape is one of several different items of evidence the grand jury will look at over the next two days.
Demonstrators are expected to be in Xenia through Wednesday.