When Ronald Ritchie called 911 from the aisles of a Walmart in western Ohio last month to report that a black man was “walking around with a gun in the store”, he said that shoppers were coming under direct threat. “He’s, like, pointing it at people,” Ritchie told the dispatcher. Later that evening, after John Crawford III had been shot dead by one of the police officers who hurried to the scene in Beavercreek, Ritchie repeated to reporters: “He was pointing at people. Children walking by.” One month later, Ritchie puts it differently. “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” the 24-year-old said, in an interview with the Guardian.And there's a videotape...but TMZ is not on the case.
They have pleaded with Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, to release the store’s surveillance footage of the shooting to the public. Having viewed it, they say that it disproves Ritchie’s version of what led to the deaths of both Crawford and a 37-year-old woman who collapsed and died in the ensuing panic. “It was an execution, no doubt about it,” alleged Crawford’s father, John Crawford II. “It was flat-out murder. And when you see the footage, it will illustrate that.” DeWine has said that releasing the footage would be “playing with dynamite”Guess who DOES get to play with dynamite?
Ritchie told the Guardian that he, too, was shown the surveillance footage by officials in the attorney general’s bureau of criminal investigation, who are investigating the shooting. “That is very improper,” said attorney Michael Wright, who said that Ritchie’s statement on what happened should have been based only on what he remembered seeing. Ritchie said that he had also become aware of past criminal allegations against Crawford, which were dropped. He declined to say if he had learned this from DeWine’s officials. Asked four times by the Guardian whether they had told the witness about Crawford’s court record, a spokesman for DeWine declined to comment.Under any reasonable standards, Mr. Ritchie should at a minimum be ashamed of playing the part in getting an innocent man murdered. But this is Mike DeWine's Ohio, and the Ferguson Playbook is in full-effect. [cross-posted at Firedoglake]