COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two years after a white policeman fatally shot a 22-year-old black man in an Ohio Wal-Mart who was carrying an air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf, the U.S. Department of Justice has yet to conclude its investigation and won't say why, despite the family's push for an update. Some questions raised by the Aug. 5, 2014, shooting of John Crawford III at the Beavercreek store, near Dayton, have been answered, but others linger.
WAITING AND WHY
Crawford's relatives wonder why the review has taken this long and hasn't been finished, but federal officials won't say, citing the pending investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
The family holds police responsible and wants charges filed, but even if that's not the conclusion reached, they want the investigation wrapped up because it's delaying their civil lawsuit against police. In a letter last month, the family's attorneys asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the federal prosecutor in Cincinnati to update them on the status of the investigation and announce results soon.
A department spokesman couldn't confirm Thursday whether Lynch had received the letter.
Officers went to the store after a man called 911 to report, in a recorded call, that someone was walking around waving an apparent rifle and "pointing it at people." Police said they believed Crawford had a real weapon and didn't respond to commands to put it down. The surveillance video of the shooting is soundless, so it can't prove what was said.
A group of people who took interest in the shooting used comparisons of the video and 911 audio to push for prosecution of the 911 caller — the only person to call police before shots were fired. The special prosecutor who presented the case to a grand jury said it concluded that the shooting was justified and that charges weren't warranted for the caller. The prosecutor said he found no evidence that the caller knew he was providing false information.
ALSO STILL PENDING
The Crawford case isn't the only fatal police shooting in Ohio that remains under federal review. A civil rights investigation also was launched after the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who was shot by a white rookie policeman while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun near a Cleveland recreation center in November 2014, just months after Crawford's death.