1 Year After John Crawford III’s Shooting by Police, His Family Is Still Waiting for Justice

Here are three things to know about the case of the Ohio man who was killed in Wal-Mart while carrying a toy gun.

John Crawford III
John Crawford III WHIO SCREENSHOT

On Aug. 5, 2014, John Crawford III and his girlfriend, Tasha Thomas, went shopping at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. They planned to buy marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers to make s’mores at a family cookout.

While on the phone with the mother of his two children, Crawford picked up a toy BB rifle. Another customer, Ronald Ritchie, 24, called 911, claiming that Crawford was waving a gun and pointing it at customers.

Officers immediately arrived at the scene, including Officer Sean Williams, who shot and killed Crawford. The Beavercreek police claimed that Crawford ignored their commands to put the weapon down.

The store surveillance video that was released showed Crawford standing in the aisle by himself carrying the toy gun. When police arrived, he was immediately shot, contradicting claims that they had given Crawford orders to drop the gun.

Ritchie, who made the initial 911 call, later recanted his claims about having seen Crawford wave the gun and point it at customers.

In another tragic twist, Crawford’s girlfriend was killed in a car crash in January.

The shooting of Crawford came just four days before the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. Both shooting deaths, along with a string of others—including those of Ezell Ford and Tamir Rice—garnered national attention in 2014, leading to national protests under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Crawford’s death was particularly troubling because Ohio is an open-carry state, where an individual without a permit can carry a gun in public—even in stores—so long as it is visible.

One year after Crawford’s death, local demonstrators are still calling for change and for the officer who killed Crawford to be held accountable. Here are three things to know about the Crawford case:

1. No police officers were indicted in Crawford’s death.

In September 2014 an Ohio grand jury declined to indict any officers involved in the shooting of Crawford.

“The grand jury listened to all the evidence, voted on it and decided that the police officers were justified in their use of force that day,” prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said, according to CNN.

Comments