Ronald Ritchie may have told police that shoppers faced an imminent threat when he called them with a claim that African-American Walmart shopper John Crawford III was walking around the store brandishing a gun — but now that he has learned cameras exist, his story is, erm, slightly different.
According to Crawford family attorneys, “He was kinda using the BB gun as what it looked like was a crutch. He was just leaning on it. And at some point, he raised it up and he was shot and killed. At no point in time was he facing the officers. At no point in time was there any type of suggestive movements or anything like that.” The Crawford’s attorneys say that an autopsy confirmed that he had been shot in the back of his left arm and in his left side.
While many would like to see the video to get a full impression of what happened, Attorney General Mike DeWine has allowed few people to view it, including Crawford’s family. He says that a release of the video will “taint the jury pool.”
Crawford was carrying a BB gun he had picked up in the store and likely intended to buy, and Ohio is an open carry state — but officers were convinced that his fellow patrons were at risk based on the report they received from Ritchie.
Ritchie told reporters he was an “ex-marine,” but it was later revealed that he was only in the corps for seven weeks before he was tossed out due to complications over his enlistment paperwork.
Ritchie previously claimed that Crawford appeared to be “trying to load” the gun, which prompted the 911 dispatcher to relay that it was believed the “gunman” had “just put some bullets inside.”
“He’s, like, pointing it at people,” Ritchie told the dispatcher.
Now, however, Ritchie’s story has changed. . “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. He still says that Crawford was waving the gun around.
Ritchie’s change in tune may have been nudged a bit by the revelation that he had viewed the security footage — and a realization that the lies he initially told were fully exposed by technology.
Even if Crawford had an actual firearm on him, Ohio is an open carry state — which means that, in any case, police killed an African-American man with little to no thought, based on the words of one witness who turned out to be lying to them.
Police say that they shot Crawford for failing to respond to verbal orders he did not seem to hear. “Based on the video that we saw, it did not even appear that he knew they were there,” said the Crawford family attorney. “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.”