The shooting of a 22-year-old man in a local Walmart in the summer of 2014 continues to be felt across the community.
The latest twist in a complex case: On Wednesday a Fairborn Municipal Court judge ruled that there is probable cause to prosecute Ronald T. Ritchie — the only person who called 911 to report that John Crawford III was brandishing what Ritchie said he thought was a rifle while walking in the store.
Crawford III was carrying a BB/pellet gun.
He died from a shot fired by Beavercreek Police Officer Sean Williams, who was later cleared by a Greene County grand jury. Angela Williams, 37, suffered a heart attack in the confusion after shots were fired, and she too died.
Here are five things to know about the August 2014 shooting and its aftermath.
1. The most recent ruling: After citizens filed affidavits in Fairborn Municipal Court, Judge Beth Root ruled that there was not probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Ritchie for inciting to violence, inducing panic, involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. She ruled that he could be prosecuted for making false alarms, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
2. The initial scene was chaotic: After Ritchie called 911, reporting that a black man was carrying a rifle in the Pentagon Boulevard Walmart store, Williams and Police Sgt. David Darkow were dispatched. Police said Crawford was ordered twice to drop the realistic-looking rifle — one he picked up from store shelves — but he did not respond to those orders.
3. Police were cleared: About six weeks after the shooting, a special grand jury convened in Xenia to review evidence in the case. They chose not to indict Williams or anyone else.
“This case is a tragedy for the family and for the police officers who were justified to take a life,” special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said.
4. There was little local unrest afterwards: Ritchie and Williams are white; Crawford was black. But unlike the aftermath of other police-involved shootings in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Dayton remained relatively quiet. There were rallies and demonstrations, but riots and mass civil disobedience did not erupt here.
5. Continuing legal ramifications: The family of Crawford III filed a federal civil lawsuit in December 2014 in Dayton’s U.S. District Court against Williams, Darkow, Police Chief Dennis Evers and Beavercreek city officials. In January, Evers was deposed for more than eight hours in that suit.
Further, the U.S. Department of Justice has an open civil rights investigation into the case
Beavercreek police and city officials have denied the civil rights and wrongful death allegations in the lawsuit.
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