Ohio’s attorney general says it would be irresponsible to release video surveillance tape of John Crawford III being shot by police at the Beavercreek Walmart last month while the investigation is still under way.
But “release the tape” has become a battle cry of those who say they are seeking justice for the 22-year-old Fairfield resident killed Aug. 5 while carrying a MK-177 BB/pellet rifle made by Crosman that he picked up from a shelf at the Pentagon Boulevard store.
Saying releasing the tape would be “playing with dynamite” that could taint a potential jury pool, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has rejected requests from Crawford’s family and the media for the release of video evidence showing the events that led to the deaths of Crawford and fellow Walmart customer Angela Williams.
The 37-year-old Fairborn resident died after experiencing a health emergency trying to flee the chaos with her 9-year-old daughter.
The Facebook group #Releasethetape was set up shortly after Crawford’s death as a place to “post media related to any events that have taken place in relationship with the #RELEASETHETAPE and #JUSTICEFORJOHNCRAWFORD movements.”
Nationally, a “Tell Walmart: Release the Tapes” petition page has been set up on Color of Change.
“Walmart has video surveillance footage of the events but has refused repeated requests from John Crawford’s family to publicly release the tapes,” the petition says.
The petition to the United States Department of Justice called “Release the Videotape Evidence in the Killing of John Crawford” was set up on Change.org. Another Change.org petition, “Open a federal investigation into the fatal police shooting of John Crawford III. Release video of shooting,” has nearly 14,000 signers.
While some supporters have rallied in support of police, many petitioners say this is both a matter of transparency and police conduct.
“The public has the right to know how evil the very ones who promised to serve and protect them really are,” petition signer Velora Black of San Diego wrote on the Change.org petition directed at the justice department.
Hamilton County attorney Mark Piepmeier will oversee the Sept. 22 special Greene County grand jury deciding if crimes were committed on Aug. 5, and whether charges should be filed in the case.
People from Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President and state Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights group National Action Network call for the release of the tape.
Crawford was black. The officers involved in his shooting are white.
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