Local pastors want feds to lead Crawford investigation

A group of local pastors on Sunday night called for the federal government to take the lead in investigating the death of John Crawford III, who last month was shot and killed by police in a Beavercreek Walmart.

The pastors also called for the release of all surveillance video showing what happened on Aug. 5 inside the retail store on Pentagon Blvd.

A couple hundred people attended the Church Wide Community Service at Phillips Temple CME Church in Trotwood.

“We do not have any degree of certainty that Mr. Crawford can receive a fair and impartial jury from the state handling the case,” said Pastor Robert Lyons of The MarketPlace Movement. “Currently, the state would be handling the case. However, it would be seated from Greene County. We have no degree of certainty that would be an impartial situation.”

Crawford, 22, was shot and killed while carrying an MK-177 (.177 caliber) Crosman air gun rifle BB/pellet gun that he had picked up from a shelf inside Walmart.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in late August that Hamilton County chief trial counsel Mark Piepmeier would serve as special prosecutor in the case. He is scheduled to present evidence to a special grand jury on Sept. 22.

Lyons, Pastor Paul Mitchell of Revival Center Ministries, Pastor Corey Cunningham of Inspiration Church and Pastor James Washington of Phillips Temple CME Church crafted a letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Justice that was read to those who attended Sunday’s service.

“Our concerns are the result of action taken by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine,” Mitchell said. “In (media) reports, the (Crawford) family’s attorney stated that Mr. Crawford was doing nothing wrong when he was shot by the police.

“While Mr. DeWine has refused citizens’ immediate request to release the surveillance footage of the shooting, he has released subjective materials, including the 911 call, the police dash camera footage. As far as we can tell, it serves only one purpose — to induce shooter’s empathy among the potential jury pool.”

The pastors asked the congregation to sign a petition that would be attached to the letter that would be sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Carter Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.