Beavercreek, OH – Two people died the night Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams decided to shoot his AR-15 inside a local Walmart August 5, 2014. John Crawford III was killed while holding an unloaded air rifle he’d found unboxed inside the store, and Angela Williams suffered a fatal heart attack as she ran from the store amid the chaos. But neither death was enough to keep Williams from getting his job back who’s now returned to full duty.
A grand jury cleared Williams of all wrong doing and the U.S. Department of Justice announced last week it would not seek federal charges against the officer for taking Crawford’s life. Once again, playing with a toy gun cost a man his life after someone called 911 to report suspicious activity.
A police officer who is adept at using an AR15 arguably should be able to discern the visible differences between an actual rifle and an air rifle, but Williams may not have even considered those details before shooting and killing the Walmart patron.
And while there are some high powered air rifles capable of potentially killing a bullet-proof vested police officer, one cannot purchase one at Walmart. All of which leaves us scratching our heads and asking questions.
All Crawford had done was pick up a toy gun that was on a shelf in Walmart and walk around while he talked on the phone. Ohio is an open-carry state and the killing of Crawford for casually holding a bb gun in a non-threatening manner should raise serious red flags amongst supporters of open-carry.
Original autopsy findings showed that Crawford was shot in the back of his left arm and in his left side, which supports the claim that he was never even facing the officer that shot him, as shown in the video. These facts support a narrative that officers never made verbal contact with Crawford, but instead simply gunned him down on sight.
When reviewing the video below, we can see that Crawford never points the weapon at anyone, nor does he have any type of body language suggesting that he ever heard any commands given to him to drop the BB gun if they were actually given. It’s much more likely, judging from the surveillance video, that officer simply shot Crawford on sight without giving him the opportunity to drop the toy gun.
Sadly, the corporate media and Americans, in general, appear not to care much less even know about why John Crawford was killed that day. Why is that?
It may be that Americans have become desensitized with the frequency of so-called “officer-involved shootings” given that nearly 1,200 citizens die every year at the hands of police officers. It seems to have become so routine that citizens hardly even bat an eye when a cop like Williams can simply wait long enough for an investigation to conclude and simply get his job back.
Over the years, TFTP has consistently reported on the dangers of handling an air gun in the presence of law enforcement officers. Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland OH police when they mistook his toy for a real weapon.
In May, a 15-year-old San Diego student was killed in school’s parking lot by police after the youth brandished a BB gun. The body camera footage of the shooting was not immediately released and the case was dismissed as a death wish on the part of the teen who they said actually called police himself.
At any rate, officer-involved shootings of people with toy guns pose serious threats to the safety of citizens, so much so that some states have taken drastic measures. The State of New York, in place of retraining officers to be able to properly identify an air rifle over a real weapon, decided to ban air guns altogether. That kind of knee-jerk response only further deprives citizens of their civil liberties.
We at TFTP believe the best way to keep the public safe is to fire or assign to permanent desk duty, any officer who shoots at someone with an air pistol, retrain officers in de-escalation techniques, and equip all officers with body cameras that run 24-hours per day. That footage should not be held as evidence until the outrage subsides either. It should immediately be available for public view regardless of how incriminating it may be. No officer should get his job back after killing someone he was sworn to protect and serve.