Group demands justice for John Crawford III

About 70 people gathered outside the Federal Building in downtown Dayton on Thursday afternoon to demand justice for John Crawford III, who was shot and killed in Walmart last year by a Beavercreek police officer.

More than 200 letters written by people across the Miami Valley and state were hand-delivered to U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart’s branch office in Dayton following the rally.

Their message, pinned on the backs of heavy winter coats read “Black lives matter.”

“We’re going to keep standing with our brothers and sisters that have fallen and those who are willing to stand with us,” said Jessica Thomas of Greene County Black Lives Matter, the group that organized Thursday’s demonstration.

Crawford, 22, of Fairfield, was shot and killed Aug. 5, 2014, by Beavercreek police officer Officer Sean Williams, who responded to Walmart after one 911 caller said a black male was waving a rifle at people, including children. Crawford had picked up a BB/pellet rifle from an opened box in the store and walked around with it while talking on the phone.

Beavercreek police said they told Crawford to drop the item before Williams shot Crawford twice. On Sept. 25, Williams was cleared of criminal charges by a Greene County special grand jury of five men and four women.

The protesters want the U.S. Attorney to find that Crawford’s civil rights were violated.

“We need to change society. We need to change the culture. That’s what we’re here for,” said Joe Kerhin of Kettering, who attended the rally.