John Crawford III, the African American man shot dead by police in a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart, may be gone; but revelations about what he was or was not doing before his death continues to unfold.
Now, the witness who made the phone call that led to the shooting has changed his story. Ronald Ritchie, the man who called police and said that Crawford was pointing a gun at shoppers in the store, now says that at no point did the young father of two make any such gesture.
Crawford III was shot dead about a month ago for holding onto a BB gun as he walked through the aisles in Wal-Mart.
Ritchie, who claims to have witnessed Crawford, called 911 and reported that a black man was “walking around with a gun in the store,” posing a threat to shoppers and pointing the firearm toward them, according to The Guardian.
Now the witness is changing his story.
“At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” the 24-year-old told The Guardian, although he still claims that Crawford III was waving the BB gun around.
Several “facts” in Ritchie’s story has changed over the recent weeks. The Guardian reported that following the shooting he had told reporters that he was an “ex-Marine,” now acknowledges that he was tossed from the Corps for “fraudulent enlistment” after serving only seven weeks – but blames paperwork for the removal.
Ritchie also told The Guardian that he has a heart condition that caused him to be discharged. Although he claims he had disclosed the condition, for which he was dismissed after only a few weeks, he says his recruiter never turned in the paperwork.
Attorneys for Crawford’s family have been able to view the video footage, and will surely use it to further discredit an already faltering witness. On the video they see that Crawford never made any threatening movements, and every other shopper seemed unbothered by his presence, BB gun and all.
“It was an execution, no doubt about it,” John Crawford II said of his son’s death. “It was flat-out murder. And when you see the footage, it will illustrate that.”
It was recently revealed through interviews with the media, that John Crawford II was actually on the phone with his son, as he took his final breaths. In fact, the Crawford family and their attorneys who have seen the video, say that Crawford III was on his cellphone as he walked into the sporting goods section of the chain store, picking up the BB gun that was already unboxed. They claim that he continued walking around the store with the BB gun at his side, pointed toward the floor.
Only once did he hoist it up a bit, a gesture that his father thinks was made because the gun had perhaps become too heavy. “He kind of swung it like you carry it on your shoulder, then he immediately put it back down,” his father explained.
“You can clearly see people walk past him, and they didn’t think anything about it. Everybody was just kind of minding their own business,” Crawford II added. “He wasn’t acting in any type of way that he would have been considered menacing, if you will.”
As the young man approached the pen aisle, he stood still for quite a few minutes, deep in conversation on his phone, the air rifle still pointed toward the floor.
Shortly afterward, officers arrived on the scene, where they shot and killed him. According to The Guardian, friends and family who saw the footage said that he was turned away, facing the opposite direction from the officers. The young man didn’t appear to see, or even hear, the officers.
“He doesn’t look at the officers, he doesn’t turn his body towards the officers. It’s as if he was just shot on sight by the officers,” attorney Michael Wright insists.
These statements make Ritchie’s previous story, as allegedly told to reporters, about Crawford III turning to the officers on their commands to drop the weapon before making a move as if he were going to run, a complete fabrication. He said the move caused the gun muzzle to point toward the officers before they started firing.
However, The Guardian notes, the family has said that an autopsy shows that the young man was shot in the back of his left arm and in his left side, which indicates that he was not facing the officers when he was shot.
The video has yet to be released to the public by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Admittedly, there is fear that it would be “playing with dynamite” and hinder a fair trial, according to The Guardian.
(Photo Source: AP)