BEAVERCREEK — A large group of protesters demonstrated outside the offices of the Beavercreek Police Department on Saturday, calling for the release of Wal-Mart surveillance video that could give clarity about an officer-involved shooting incident that took place in the store’s Beavercreek location Aug. 5.
In that incident, John Crawford III, 22, of Cincinatti, was shot by Beavercreek police officers in the store after he allegedly waved an air rifle – later identified as a Crosman MK-177, a .177 caliber BB/pellet rifle – at store customers.
“We hope to let people know that police are being evaluated, and we are paying attention to how interactions with police affect our community,” said Kavin Shah, a spokesman for the protesting group. “Events like this create mistrust, conflict between the police and local residents, and so we are seeking a way to engage in dialogue with the police and the community to see what we can do to improve community relations between citizens and police.”
Shah estimated about 175 people were present at the demonstration and said that people from Columbus, Youngstown, Akron, Toledo, Cleveland, Dayton and Yellow Springs were in attendance.
Shah said the group has not received a response. When reached for comment, Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers referred questions to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, whose Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting the investigation into the incident.
“Any comment regarding the investigation should come from them,” he said.
Jil Del Greco, spokeswoman for DeWine’s office, said the investigation remains ongoing.
“We’ve interviewed multiple witnesses, but we’re still in the process of conducting the interviews to determine exactly what happened,” she said. “As of right now, I’m not aware of any plans to release that video publicly prior to the closing of the case.”
The group organized Saturday night at the Kroger store on Dayton Xenia Road in Beavercreek and marched to the department’s office, where a “letter of demands” was read to the whole group. Shah said the full group stood in the grass near the building, and a small delegation of people delivered a letter – addressed to Chief Evers – to a police employee.
In that letter, “Concerned Citizens” call for the release of the surveillance video, saying, “We the community will continue to inquire until full disclosure is realized regarding this horrific incident.” A full copy of the letter is available online.
“We demonstrated with clear demand of wanting that tape released, so that we as a community and the families of the victims that died that day … can have closure on the deaths and what happened and also go to the attorneys so they can address the issue and make sure justice is served,” Shah said. “There’s a tremendous amount of nonspecific reports going on. There’s not clarity in that situation.”
Shah said the group has purposely chosen to the make the protest about the death of John Crawford and police transparency and accountability and said it’s not necessarily involved with other actions going on around the country.
“We’re focusing on the fact that it’s local, it happened in our area and that we are interested in healing our community’s wounds first and assessing what happened on the tape,” he said. “If it was misconduct then the community’s action will be different.”
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Greene County agencies and organizations. You can find him on Twitter at @XDGNatePilling or you can call him at 937-502-4498.