Relatives of John Crawford, the man shot dead by police at a Beavercreek Walmart, say they’ve contacted civil rights organizations because they believe the shooting was not justified.
They believe he was killed possibly after he picked up a toy gun in the store.
Crawford, 22, of Ridge Drive in Fairfield, was identified as the man Beavercreek police shot and killed Tuesday night.
LeeCee Johnson, who said she is the mother of Crawford’s children, said she was on a cell phone call with Crawford when he was shot by officers. She said Crawford went to the area to visit family members.
“We was just talking. He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him,” she said, adding: “And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”
Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers did not answer questions Wednesday but said officers acted appropriately.
Johnson said she has two children with Crawford: John Crawford IV, who is 1, and Jayden Crawford, who is 4 months old. She just found out she is pregnant with a third child, but never got the chance to tell Crawford.
“He had a lot of family members that cared about him, and his kids. They’re not going to be able to know their dad. They’re too young — only 4 months and a year old — to even know how wonderful he was to them,” she said.
Johnson said police did not talk to her at the time of the shooting. She believes the police did not do their job properly and wants to see justice done. Once the case is reviewed, they will find everything she said is consistent with what camera footage and phone records will show.
“I hope the police get fired and sent to jail, because (the officer who fired) didn’t do his job. He didn’t treat him like a human being. He didn’t treat him someone at Walmart looking at toy guns,” she said.
The Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has been asked by the Beavercreek Police Department to investigate the incident.
Beavercreek Police and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, when contacted Wednesday, refused to say whether Crawford was armed with a toy or a real weapon.
“I can’t comment – that’s part of the open investigation,” Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said.
However, on Thursday, the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released the following statement: "BCI Investigators on the case report witnesses say the man was carrying a weapon Tuesday night inside a Beavercreek store. The weapon was an MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/Pellet Rifle, manufactured by Crosman. It is known as a 'variable pump air rifle.'"
Lamon Brown, Crawford’s cousin, spoke on behalf of the family. The family has contacted the NAACP and National Action Network, he said.
“He does not own (a rifle-like weapon). We think it was a toy,” Brown said. “We actually think it was a toy. After these things happen they usually report what kind of gun it was, but they’re not saying what kind of gun it was.”
Tasha Thomas, who identified herself as Crawford’s girlfriend and appeared in the audience with his family members at Wednesday’s police news conference, said that Crawford has two children and that she has known him for four months.
She said she drove him to the Walmart after picking him up at an outlet mall in Cincinnati. He was not armed when he entered the Walmart, she said. She said she was with him in the store, but was in another aisle when he was shot.
“He did not have any type of gun on him,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
By Steve Bennish and Eric Robinette - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
WHIO-TV reporter Kate Bartley contributed to this report.
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