by Meg Langford
Do you remember John Crawford? Probably not. Almost nobody does. But Andrew Hawkins remembers him. Andrew Hawkins was a wide receiver in the NFL who played for the Rams, the Bengals, and the Browns. And somewhere in the middle of all that, he managed to graduate from Columbia with a Master's Degree in sports management---and he did it garnering a 4.0. Talk about stats.
And Hawkins remembers John Crawford. Just as he remembers Tamir Rice.
You might say that Andrew Hawkins started this whole "kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner" kerfuffle, although his choice was not to kneel, but to wear a jersey memorializing the dead.
You might also say that Andrew Hawkins is something of a hero to us here at Pickford Studios, particularly given his eloquent and impassioned defense of his choice.
So here, to honor Hawkins’ groundbreaking choice, and all the other players and coaches who have stood up for their first Amendment rights, we offer a chapter from our book "The Little Book of Lynching", Part Two. The Shooting of John Crawford. And then, the Shooting of Tamir Rice. Followed by the book's Epilogue--as thorough as explanation as you will find of why these athletes, and millions of Americans, continue raise alarm about the small minority of rogue cops who rule the mean streets with their own versions of power trips and prejudice.
OPEN CARRY … UNLESS YOU’RE BLACK
Before we begin this chapter, we should note that Ohio is an Open Carry State. This means that you can carry your semi-automatic rifle into the Wendy’s, the Baskin Robbins, the Piggly-Wiggly. Hell, technically, you can take it into a daycare or to church, if you jump through the right hoops. Granted, if you are not used to this, it is an odd thing to attempt to get accustomed to—the sight of people carrying firearms into seemingly peaceful places of work, play, and worship. But the law is the law. And the Second Amendment is the Second Amendment. Caution: if you haven’t seen them before, and if you have never lived in an open carry book, the images are startling. Or go to Google Images and type in “OPEN CARRY”. It’s quite a sight.
You are a young man, just twenty-two years old, looking forward to spending the next day with your girlfriend and her kids. You have plans for a barbecue, to make S’mores. She is off at one end of the Walmart, shopping for uniforms for her job as a senior caregiver. You are browsing. While in the sports department, you casually pick up a BB gun, where it is on display for shoppers in an open box. Not behind glass, just available there for anybody’s hands-on perusal.
You carry it with you, down at your side, while you browse. You are carrying it openly, just as literally thousands of Ohioans do every day. You chat casually on the phone as you stroll the aisles from the sporting section to the pet section.
And then the cops come in and shoot you dead.
It was a killing that electrified the nation—at least, it electrified that portion of the populus which believes that black lives do matter. The date was August 5th, 2015. A young man, just twenty-two years old, was roaming the aisles of the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart, waiting on his girlfriend who was shopping in another part of the store. He made the mistake of carrying the gun that he was interested in from the sporting goods department, where he had picked it up, to the next aisle over, where he was browsing in the pet section. A witness saw this, completely misinterpreted Crawford’s casual carrying of the gun, and called the police, who then rushed in and shot John Crawford dead. One murder, seven points of view. And it involved quite a cast, each with their own version: the 911 caller, an innocent bystander, the “eye in the sky”, two police officers, a girlfriend, and the victim. A sort of “Rashomon” effect, if you will. There is only one point of view we cannot share here. Only one version of this horrible reality which we can never know. And that, of course, would be the words of the dead. The Victim.
THE RONALD RITCHIE 911 CALL
The double tragedy which occurred on the night of August 5th, 2014 began with the now famous 911 call from a smirking little liar by the name of Ronald Ritchie. It should be noted that Ronald Ritchie likes to lie, to serve his own ends and inflate his own sense of self-importance. After being dubbed “a hero” and “brave” by investigators, Ritchie repeatedly lied that he was an x-Marine. As the daughter of an Air Force Colonel who is buried in Arlington Cemetery, your humble author does not like people lying about military service. Ritchie was never a Marine. As soon as he enlisted, he was almost immediately thrown out because he lied about medical issues.
So we know that Ritchie is a practiced liar.
His lies, exaggerations, and big-manisms would result in two deaths on that humid August night.
Here is a breakdown of the 911 call he placed; please watch the YouTube link below. (Should this particular link be broken, the footage of the Crawford shooting, synced with Ritchie’s 911 call, is Youtubiquitous. My invented word for the day.)
On the video, you will see a clock marking the time; in the transcripts below, the first time notation that you will see is the actual time on the Walmart Security Video: the incident began about twenty minutes after eight in the evening. The second number, the “smaller” minutes, refers to where you can find the dialogue in the YouTube video itself. I highly recommend that you watch the dangerous, malicious 911 call and the accompanying footage.
8:21:45 /// 13 seconds into the linked YouTube video: Dialing the phone, phone ringing.
DISPATCHER: Beavercreek 911, where is your emergency?
RONALD RITCHIE: I’m at the uh, Beavercreek Walmart. There’s a, uh, gentleman walking
around with a gun in the store.
DISPATCHER: Has he got it pulled out?
RITCHIE: Yeah, he’s, like, pointing it at people
(THIS IS ONE OF RITCHIE’S FATAL LIES: YOU WILL SEE THAT HE IS ABSOLUTELY NOT POINTING IT AT PEOPLE. NOBODY IS EVEN NEAR HIM.)
There is then some identifying conversation, where Ritchie gives his own name, and proceeds to describe the suspect. The next lie comes at 8:22:33
RITCHIE: “He’s like loading it right now … looks like he’s just trying to load it.”
If Ritchie has the vast military experience with firearms that he claims to have, he should be asking himself this: why would a man with a plot to shoot crowds of people in a Walmart come into the store without having already loaded his gun? Has anybody ever planned and perpetrated a shooting, and then waited until they were actually on site to load the gun? Never, I suspect. This should have signaled to Ritchie that Crawford was not here for ill purposes, rather that he was just a guy who didn’t apparently know much about guns fiddling around with one, trying to familiarize himself with it
8:23:2 RITCHIE …It looks like he’s aiming the thing …I don’t know what he’s trying to do, he’s, like, pointing at things…
8:24:17. DISPATCHER: Sir, what’s going on now?
RITCHIE: I don’t know, he’s just looking around, waving it, waving it back and forth.
(And now, the lie that gets John Crawford killed: Walmart: 8:25:40 /// YouTube 3:56)
RITCHIE: He just, like, pointed it at two children.
This is a complete and utter fabrication. If you are watching the video, you see that John Crawford is doing no such thing. You now see the police enter the scene.
And at 8:26:56, John Crawford III is gunned down.
The next day, Ronald Ritchie was interviewed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Although it is evident throughout the hour long interview that Ritchie is beginning to squirm, awkwardly aware that his story doesn’t match up with the Walmart security video, Ritchie nonetheless continues to lie, and condemn the character of John Crawford. Here are some
selected transcripts of the Ohio BCI investigator interviewing Ritchie. As early as one minute and eleven seconds in, we hear the investigator say something shocking:
DETECTIVE (reference to an innocent person having a heart attack in the other part of the store.) That was probably the most tragic part of the situation. The other guy deserved it.
RITCHIE: No kidding!
The “other guy” is a reference to John Crawford. Already, the idiocy, apathy, and bigotry spews. This interview took place the day after the shooting. By this time, the cops clearly knew that Crawford was holding an empty air rifle that he had just taken out of a box at Walmart. And the best the detective can come up with is that “The other guy deserved it.” What we should be seeing is a mad scramble on the part of the police to explain how they were going to explain to the public that they had ignored protocol, and that their choice ended in John Crawford’s death.
Six minutes into the interview, Ronald Ritchie invokes what can only be called a double standard, a deadly hypocrisy. Even though Ronald Ritchie is himself a gun hobbyist, and knows that Ohio is an Open Carry state—and more importantly, even though anyone watching John Crawford can see that he is casual, non-threatening, and engaged in a phone conversation—nonetheless, Ritchie makes a great deal of it.
6:10 RITCHIE: It’s for sure that he has a gun in his hand, broad daylight. . . so I immediately get on the phone with 911, getting officers there.”
(Note how unlike the Tamir Rice 911 call this call is. In the Tamir Rice call, the caller made certain to reiterate several times that Tamir was probably a youth and that the gun was probably a fake. Not that it did Tamir much good. But at least one cannot blame that 911 caller for ratcheting up the hysteria.)
Just a minute later, Ronald Ritchie, who is so aghast at Crawford carrying a gun in an Open Carry state, brags about his collection and its many uses:
7:50--DETECTIVE: You’re familiar with AR15s?
RITCHIE: I have three of ‘em
DETECTIVE: I won’t ask you why you need three right now.
RITCHIE: Long range close quarters. Have a good time! (laughs wickedly) Hee hee hee!
If Mr. Ritchie is as familiar with firearms as he brags to be, he not only knows that Ohio is an Open Carry state, but this should be quite a familiar sight to him—a man carrying a gun “in broad daylight.” I’m guessing that Ritchie’s problem is that the kid is black. Had the man Ritchie spotted in the Walmart looked just like him—a white man, wearing his plaid pajama
bottoms in the store along with tattoos and a skull shirt—then I’m guessing that Ronald Ritchie would have had no problem with him.
8:35 RITCHIE: I hear what I can recall is click loading, just clicking clicking, clicking, and what looks like he’s cocked the weapon, so at this point it’s getting a little serious, and he’s just pointing it back and forth, just strolling it, at one point there’s a family that goes across with two young children, I’d say about five years old, and he muzzle checked both of them, and that kind of concerned me right there.
Again, all of this is an outright lie. Crawford never held the gun with both hands, and he never pointed it. The video contains the truth.
DETECTIVE: Where are you at when, uhm, you’re making the call? Where are you hiding out?
RITCHIE: We actually moved up closer to him, which I know is kind of retarded but we was probably halfway up the aisle.
This dings his credibility: Ronald, what, you think he’s a dangerous crazed gunman, but you allow your wife to move closer, along with you moving closer?
RITCHIE: You’re dumb enough to point any kind of weapon at a police officer, you get what’s coming to you. Like I said, I’m x-military, I’d a done the same action the police officer done.”
12:58. At this point, when Ritchie can see that the surveillance footage clearly proves him a liar, he backpedals on the idea that John Crawford was aiming his gun at people.
And then, finally, as if to solidify his legacy as a heartless bastard, he references seeing Crawford’s girlfriend in the parking lot, after the shooting:
16:56 DETECTIVE: Did he look like he was with anybody?
RITCHIE: I don’t know, we got outside and there was that woman that was trying to find her boyfriend … it was weird though, cause she said that exact description he had … I’m like eh, he ha! He’s probably dead now! Tough shit!
And then, later:
33:40 (as they watch Crawford, shot and struggling)
Detective: You don’t feel as bad now; do you?
Ritchie: No he he he he he he!
Dear Ronald Ritchie: You can now go on with your life. Even though a variety of charges could be levelled against you—you lied, and those lies led to a human being’s death … and a young man was murdered in cold blood, because of a call you made. You can go on with your life, have children, enjoy the world with them. John Crawford can do none of those things any more. And you have robbed his family of the love and privilege of growing up with their son, brother, father. Shame on you. John Crawford’s blood is on your hands.
AND NOW, A LITTLE BACKGROUND:
KILLINGS IN BEAVERCREEK
Beavercreek, Ohio is a friendly, comfortably sized little burg, neither too small to provide the amenities of life, nor so large as to seem impersonal. At about 45,000 people, it is either a largish small town or a tiny city. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t have much of a crime problem. There have only been five killings there since the year 2000, in the last decade and a half. That’s pretty good.
What is very bad is that almost half of them--well, 40% of those deaths--are by the same hand. You guessed it. Officer Sean Williams. You see, there have been three murders outside the hands of the police department, and two deaths-by-cop in those fifteen years. Both bullets came from Williams’ gun. And the shootings took place just four years apart. Are you starting to get a bad feeling about this? Let’s take a closer look at Sean’s first killing:
The call comes in. A domestic violence dispute. Officer Sean Williams and his partner respond to the call. When they get to the scene of the fight, an apartment building, they hurry up the steps and knock on the door of the apartment where the incident is reported to have happened. The wife has left. The seventeen year old son, Christian, is still there with his father, Air Force Master Sergeant Scott A. Brogli, but Officer Williams hustles the boy out the door. Christian crouches just outside of the apartment, listening.
According to Williams and his partner, Brogli was sprawled on the ground, drunk; he would turn out to be very, very drunk, his blood alcohol level at twice the legal limit.
As the drunk staggers to feet, according to Williams, he grabs a knife, so Williams fires with intent to kill. And kill Brogli he does.
Now, Williams will tell you that he feared for his life, and normally, I don’t like to go around questioning the words or intentions of police officers. But for me, like for so many Americans, it in increasingly hard to believe the words of some cops. Particularly as this is becoming a mantra
with cops who find themselves in the middle of a thorny investigation. Williams, for me, is one of these cops.
The Beavercreek Police Chief was disturbingly cryptic about the entire drama. According to the Springfield News-Sun, June 28th, 2010, “The chief would not divulge … from what range the shot was fired, where Brogli was shot or whose blood was spilled on steps heading down to the parking lot.”
Let’s look at it through an objective filter. A big fat man is terribly inebriated. Lying prone on the floor. (A disgusting sight, I’ll grant you, but if we murdered everybody who got drunk and used poor judgment, we’d have to gun down millions of people right now.) So, he’s nearly passed out, stinking drunk. And the only way that Officer Williams can diffuse the situation is to shoot him dead? What about Tasers? Pepper Spray? Shooting to disable? Williams said he felt that his life and the life of his partner were in danger. But that’s also what he said four years later about a young guy in a Walmart who was holding a store BB gun with one hand, barrel to the floor, while he meandered through the pet section and chatted on the phone. This man, too, needed to be gunned down because there was no other way to stop him? Stop him from what? Browsing the bowls of goldfish?
SERGEANT DAVID DARKOW
I am pulling no punches. Let’s get this clear from the outset. Both officers lie about what John Crawford was doing when they encountered him. Both of them make no acknowledgement of the fact that John Crawford was talking on his cellphone the entire time. This is ridiculous, because everybody, and I mean everybody, can clearly see that John Crawford is, in fact, casually talking on his cellphone the entire time. The Walmart eye-in-the-sky can see it. The store witnesses had observed it. The person to whom he is talking to can prove it, from the time stamp on their cell phone records. Even the fetid Sack-O-Sh*t Ronald Ritchie, who lied about almost everything, including his Marine Corps service, noted that Crawford was talking on the phone. But the cops did not acknowledge this. Why? Because it would have dirtied their kill. So synchronous are their statements, it seems as if they must have rehearsed it afterwards. It is no surprise to learn, then, that the two were together for a prolonged time after the incident—an egregious violation of police procedure, as it creates an opportunity for collusion. And of course, I suspect that they both relied on the advice of their lawyers, instead of their memories and their honor, to tell them what to say in their official statements.
Let us begin with the statement not of the shooter, but of the second officer at the incident, Sergeant David Darkow. Below we will pull excerpts from both his official statement to the public, and from his interview with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Sergeant Darkow’s first lie:
At 00:43 DARKOW: There was reports coming from dispatch that a male that was armed was in the back, near the pet food aisles, and he was in the corner. As I was responding, dispatch kept us updated from callers who were calling in, saying that they believed he was armed with some sort of rifle, that he was, uhm, either waving it or pointing it at people … (underlined emphasis added)
Correction. Not “callers”. Not “reports”. No “they”. Not plural.
“Caller.” “Report.” “He.” Singular. (AKA, Ronald Ritchie, the lying Dirtbag.)
And you might call Darkow’s failure to make this distinction, his lack of concern for accuracy, to be a fatal error. There were not multiple people calling in, there was just one lone person calling in, making allegations. And the fact that, in a crowded store, only one single person called about an allegedly creepy crazed person waving a gun and pointing it at children should have told the cops something significant; it should have been a major mitigating factor in the situation. Doesn’t that mean something? There is only one concerned person in the entire vast and bustling Walmart store? Only one opinion, one perspective, one point of view?
Even Officer Darkow himself, upon entering the store, comments on a complete lack of drama or hysteria, given the hyperbole expressed in Ronald Ritchie’s inflammatory call: (Interview, 2:29) “We entered there, and it appeared business as usual and it seems as though nobody really knew that anything was going on. The greeter, I remember that the greeter was still there, saw us, gave us a shocked look. I was telling people as we went by, and they saw us carrying our rifles, I was telling them to seek cover and get out…so I was yelling at people, and we both made our way back…”
Furthermore, during their official interviews, Officers Darkow and Williams will both point out that the Walmart greeters seemed completely unaware of this “danger”. The Walmart clerks were all completely unaware of this “danger”. Perhaps most importantly, the shopping population was calm. In an open carry state, entering a store that sells guns, this should have tipped the cops off that maybe this was not the danger that the one, lone, single caller had made it out to be.
And now, we move on to the two officers’ encounter with the doomed John Crawford. Below, find excerpts from both the shorter statement by Darkow released to the general public, as well as from the longer, two hour interview that was conducted by the State of Ohio, as a part of their criminal investigation.
STATEMENT AT 3:28 DARKOW: …I saw a black male, looked like he had dreadlocks. He was standing in the corner of the store. He had the rifle, it was a black AR style rifle, I believe. He was holding it in what we would call kind a low rider type position. He was, I don’t know what he was trying to do with the rifle, but he was looking down with it. He had his left hand on the stock portion and then he was messing with the rifle with his right but I couldn’t--he was turned in such a way I couldn’t see what he was doing with the rifle.
INTERVIEW AT 15:14 (Interview) And I see a male that fits the description … he has a rifle that looks very similar to what I know to be an AR 15 assault weapon he also has it in what I would refer to as a low-ready type position where his left hand is on the fore grip of the rifle and his right hand is near the action portion of the rifle …And he was more or less facing us at this point … I started giving him verbal commands to drop the gun. . .it was either drop the gun or drop the weapon but I was very loud and very clear. … I’m focused in on the suspect, I’m giving commands, I remember Sean also yelling commands.. . .I yelled at one point for him to get on the ground…And I remember despite our repeated attempts to tell him to put the gun down and get on the ground, he didn’t….At that point, despite our repeated attempts to tell him to put the gun down and get on the ground, he started moving.
This statement is so full of lies that I do not know where to start. Poor John Crawford had one hand on a cellphone which was planted in his ear. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but it happened to be a black male with black hair holding a white phone; other witnesses to the incident confirmed how apparent this was. The cell phone was easily visible from the Walmart eye-in-the-sky, and the officers were closer than that vantage point to Crawford. Yet Darkow chooses to “remember” that Crawford supposedly had both hands on the gun in a low-rider type position. Darkow claims that Crawford had both hands on the gun. I ask you to think about it, as a person who has shopped at Walmart. It is clear from the footage of the incident that John Crawford is talking on the phone, and more importantly, that he is only about 20-25 feet away from the police when he is talking on said phone. Now, if you are a police officer, and you cannot tell, from a distance of 20-25 feet, whether somebody is holding a rifle with both hands and ready to shoot, or talking on a cell phone while holding the gun with one hand, with the barrel pointed at the ground, then you need not to be a cope any more. And yes, I have respectfully considered the objections that police have to “Monday morning quarterbacking”—perhaps, you say, Darkow wasn’t lying, he just didn’t see it accurately, or remember it right: to that I reply, if you can’t pause before shooting long enough to see that the suspect is not in fact pointing a gun, but talking on a cellphone—a black man with black hair holding a stark white cellphone to his ear—thereby rendering the “suspect” far less dangerous—then you are shooting far too quickly. You are trigger happy. You shouldn’t be in law enforcement. Oh, and forensic analysts are curious to know that if he was facing you at this point, why did you bullets penetrate him from the side?
There is also the damning matter of the fact that they didn’t give John Crawford any time at all to
respond to their alleged commands. Although Darkow’s interview with the Ohio investigator is over two hours long,, it is worth watching to the bitter end. It is only during about the last fifteen minutes that the very understated investigator gives Darkow an opportunity to actually watch the security footage recorded by the Walmart eye-in-the-why, and it is vaguely gratifying to watch Darkow squirm uncomfortably at being force to watch the truth: that he and Williams did not repeatedly order or plead with John Crawford to drop the gun, and they certainly did not wait for him to comply. They did not even allow a couple of seconds. The interview that Darkow must undergo with the Ohio state investigator is available online; if one forwards it to the end, nearly the completion of the second hour, you can see Darkow subtly backpedaling and scrambling to explain the fact that how he says the killing happened bears no resemblance to what really happened, or how quickly it actually came down. Here are Darkow’s thoughts, as he watches the actual security video from the Walmart eye-in the-sky.
DARKOW ) (1:53:50) He does a lot of waving of the gun while he is apparently on the phone. The only thing I can tell you is when I came around the corner, I never saw any phone in his hand. He appeared to me to be holding the gun, and I thought he had his right hand near the action part of the gun when I saw him. So I don’t know, uhm…
INVESTIGATOR: Clearly his body was turned, when you first saw him. He was turned facing this aisle, this way, your vantage point is this way, so you’re not getting a clear picture of what’s going on with the other arm. . . so whether he’s on the phone this way, you’re looking at a hot response, your eyes are going to focus necessarily on the weapon, so it’s not entirely as you recall., you thought he might have both hands on the weapon?
DARKOW: I know the right hand, I couldn’t see what he was doing with it. I know the left hand was on the gun, I remember that distinctly. The right hand, I couldn’t--it happened very quickly. I couldn’t see what his right hand was doing.
INVESTIGATOR (155:45) When did you realize a phone was involved? Did you ever--?
DARKOW: No … I don’t know what this right hand was doing. I recall his right hand seeming like he was messing with a rifle of some kind…it appears as if he had a phone in his right hand, based on the video, but I can tell you as we rounded the corner it looked like he was messing with the rifle, it look like he was doing something with his right hand. But I couldn’t see as well as I could his left hand.
Lastly, as a part of the standard interviewing protocol, Darkow is asked point blank why he felt a need to fire his weapon. This is standard operating procedure, and it is glaringly apparent that Darkow has rehearsed this speech well, with all the legal and criminal ramifications having been considered and addressed. (Certainly, one does not begrudge an officer the right to make a statement that he feels will defend his actions. But the problem in the case of officers Williams and Darkow is that they are forced to stick to their lies.) Let’s look at Darkow’s statement. And
then, I will offer my annotated version of Darkow’s statement.
INTERVIEW AT 12:20 DARKOW: … Because we had a suspect who I felt posed a serious threat of serious physical harm or death, to ourselves and everyone else in Walmart, by having in his control or possessing a deadly firearms, or what we believed could be a deadly firearm, AR style rifle , we had dispatch tell us one person thought he was loading it, so we possibly had a suspect with an AR style rifle, who was not obeying our commands to put it down, who was not obeying our commands to get down on the ground, and was startled by our presence and was trying to either take some kind of position of advantage or cover, or was trying to get out of our line of sight or line of fire so that he could do whatever his plan was to do. But I knew one thing and that was there was no way we could allow him to be uncontained in that area and get out into this very populated store with a rifle.
INTERVIEW AT 12:20 DARKOW: … Because we had a suspect who I felt posed a serious threat of serious physical harm or death, (No, Donny Darkow, you just had a young man carrying a gun, holding it with only one hand, in an open carry state) …to ourselves and everyone else in Walmart, by having in his control or possessing a deadly firearms, or what we believed could be a deadly firearm, an AR style rifle, (yes, a gun that he had just picked up from the gun section of a store that sells guns, something which you admitted to being well aware of.) we had dispatch tell us one person thought he was loading it, so we possibly had a suspect with an AR style rifle (yes, you had one person, out of a Walmart full of dozens, maybe hundreds of shoppers, along with greeters, clerks, managers, and store security, all of whom, except for Ronald Ritchie, were calm, going about their business, and seeing no reason to call 911. The fact that this was not a red flag for you is appalling, and calls your judgement into serious down.) …who was not obeying our commands to put it down, who was not obeying our commands to get down on the ground, (because you gave him absolutely no time to, you trigger crazy Nazi) and was startled by our presence (what normal person wouldn’t be startled by the presence of a mini-Swat team in Walmart, you Storm Trooper) and was trying to either take some kind of position of advantage or cover, or was trying to get out of our line of sight or line of fire (that’s the normal, human reaction to being shot at, Donny Darkow), o that he could do whatever his plan was to do. (like maybe, live another day?) But I knew one thing and that was there was no way we could allow him to be uncontained in that area and get out into this very populated store with a rifle. (Because he is a threat. But you, you’re not threat to civilizations. Just a Storm Trooper doing his job…Watch the video. Judge for yourself. )
Last but not least, while it may seem a bit anticlimactic, it is worth noting that Officer Darkow and Officer Williams broke protocol by going together to the hospital, giving them a chance to coordinate their statements. This may seem harsh, but they again violated procedure:
16:55 “I ended up going in the medic with Sean, though and having to leave my vehicle, I
mean, I secured my vehicle
INVESTIGATOR: Why’d you ride the medic, just curious? For yourself, or for Sean?
DARKOW: For Sean. And I think I told ?(person’s name, unclear), ‘Hey I’m leaving my car here, I’m not gonna have a car’, I’m riding in the medic with Sean, so he knew. . .
So not only did Darkow violate protocol, but he told someone his plans and that person allowed him to violate protocol. He should have been ordered to separate himself from Williams. Yes, the impulse to protect your partner is touching but firstly: Darkow and Williams were not partners. It was Kismet that threw them together on this shooting. And secondly: Williams was not in some kind of pain or experience a mortal wound. He had not been shot, he was not wounded, he was just going to a standard protocol check-up—blood pressure, etc., because he had just been involved with an officer involved shooting. And since Williams had actually done this kind of thing before—killed a man while on duty, because “he feared for his life,” he was something of an old hand at this. To put it baldly, this was not his first time to the rodeo. And yes, it would have been excellent protocol to put Williams with someone who could help him through the aftermath of an officer involved shooting—a senior officer or a counselor—but not another cop who had also been both witness and shooter. Procedure was grossly violated. That time together in the ambulance gave Darkow and Williams time to get their stories synched. Again, they should have been separated.
Guess who thinks that this was a lousy idea? None less than Police Chief Magazine. Not protestors, not Negroes, not hippies, no scofflaws. The most important and powerful police sorts that there are. Police Chief Magazine, understanding that people should not be colluding on make statements that jive, makes clear that when officers are involved in a shooting, they need to be immediately separated.
“After the scene is stabilized and medical attention is rendered to the injured, it is necessary to thoroughly investigate the facts to determine whether charges should be placed. Each potential witness, including each officer and civilian, must be separated from all others before questioning begins. It is important to explain to the officers that the reason they, too, must be separated during questioning is to avoid an attorney challenge on this issue in the criminal or civil case. Studies have shown that when several officer witnesses get together, their team recollection is better than individual recall, but this strategy also subjects their testimony to additional scrutiny and allegations of collusion.”
The Police Chief Magazine, May 2015, Handling Officer Involved Shootings, by Drew J. Tracey, Assistant Chief, Investigative Service Bureau, Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department. The International Association of Chiefs of Police mentions the same procedure, urging that officers involved in a shooting be given council in the form of a trusted peer, trained support staff, or even spiritual counsel, but specifically refers to said officer as
“separated from others pending investigative procedures”. 45:53 again the shooting
At about 45:36 Darkow admits he didn’t even admit to saying POLICE, identifying themselves.
51:28 At one point, I told him to get on the ground. Now whether that was as the shots were going off or before the shots were going off I do remember saying that…
INTERVIEWER: Did the suspect immediately comply with your demands.
DARKOW: he didn’t comply with anything.
OFFICER SEAN WILLIAMS
Officer Sean Williams snuffed out the life of an innocent person literally in the blink of an eye. Citing the following excerpts of Williams’s account of what happened, we will see how he both lied, and behaved in a manner so egregiously incompetent and aggressive that it cost two people their lives. This is a long chapter, and it is a complicated killing. But, as reprehensible as the infamous Ronald Ritchie 911 call may be, with all its lies and hyperbole, at the heart of this tragedy is a matter is a simple truth: the officers involved did not begin to give John Crawford any time to react to their commands.
By sheer coincidence, Williams happened to be in the Walmart parking lot, finishing some paperwork, when the call came in. From the first few seconds that Officer Williams got the alert, he bungled the entire crisis, seemingly on purpose:
2:05 (shorter statement?) OFFICER WILLIAMS: As I was waiting for the second officer, I confirmed with dispatch, ‘cause dispatch said at one point that he was pointing the gun at people, so I got on the radio just to confirm, because Walmart does have guns and they sell guns, you know, it could just be a person who just bought a gun, walking around the store. I confirmed with dispatch, I asked them, I said, I asked if the subject was pointing the gun at people, and they confirmed. They said yes.
This comment from Williams makes sense at first glance, but it does not hold up under closer scrutiny. Yes, it would seem to be a good thing that Williams’ thinks about that fact that Walmart sells guns and that there might be an innocent explanation for why someone who is carrying a gun around the store. But then he drops the ball, and it costs young John Crawford his life.
Three grave mistakes made by Williams thus far:
1.) 911 dispatch cannot actually see what is going on. They have to take the word of a person calling in to 911, and every study ever conducted has proved that witnesses can be wildly inaccurate in their observations. Officer Williams should know this, and should already be taking that into consideration. Which leads me to my second point.
2.) During the incident, nobody in the chain of command at the fatally incompetent Beavercreek Police Department comments on the fact, or makes much of the fact, that in a crowded Walmart, in eight minutes, from the time John picks up the gun from the sporting section, to the time he is killed, only ONE SINGLE PERSON is alarmed enough to telephone the police. In an era of universal cellphone ownership, when a dog on a median strip or a kid wielding a soaker generates a firestorm of 911 calls, one finds it difficult to believe that John Crawford was behaving in a manner that was the least bit threatening, for nobody but one lone man—established after the fact as a chronic liar—took notice of him and felt threatened. As common sense dictates, and as analysts have pointed out, if a black man were moving through a Walmart, waving a gun, loading it, cocking it, and pointing it a children, the 911 dispatcher would have been besieged by frantic calls from cellphones all over the store. But nobody in the store even gives an employee or a manager a heads up, much less calls 911. Why was this not a big, fat flapping red flag, a flag that should have caused the Beavercreek Police to take Ritchie’s call with a massive grain of salt? (It is worth noting that when Darkow and Williams actually did enter the Walmart, the commented in their debriefing that nobody seemed alarmed: the oblivious greeter was happily greeting, the clerks clerking, the customers shopping …)
3.) By far the most important point: the fact the Williams knows Walmart sells guns should have given him the idea for a strategy that not only might have saved Crawford’s life, but in fact would have provided Officer Williams with the only safe way of neutralizing the threat that Williams supposedly represented: why didn’t Officer Williams, as soon as he got the alert, then call Walmart Security and insist that they immediately put their eyes-in-the-sky in the pet section? Then, Officer Williams could have immediately learned what everybody who has watched the video now knows: that for a full six minutes (and in the separate video that shows Crawford picking up the gun from its open box and ambling out of Sporting Goods), poor John was doing nothing but “meandering” (to use the 911 caller’s own casual descriptor) down the aisles and browsing, with the gun almost always pointed directly to the ground and never raised in a threatening manner, with Crawford not looking for people, not the least bit interested in anybody else in the Walmart. Completely non-threatening. John never even put both hands on the gun; he was yakking on the phone the entire time.
If a man is wielding a gun, the first thing an officer should want to know is the arrangement of innocent civilians around the person with the gun. Are there lots of customers around him? Children? People who could be taken hostage? People who could be accidentally shot by
police? People who could be wounded or killed by ricocheting bullets? The only way to get a sense of that in a place like Walmart is to immediately have security inform the officer of conditions via the eye-in-the-sky. But Officer Williams showed no interest in that, in understanding what he was walking into. His behavior upon approaching the suspect will prove that.
There are those who have argued that in a case like this—shooter in a public place—such steps would not be feasible. Fair enough. But that still means that in order to classify Crawford as a “shooter”, the fact that this could simply be a case of “Open Carry” has been disregarded, as well as ignoring the fact that there is only one 911 call in a store crowded full of shoppers. Lastly, even if a look by Walmart security at the “eye in the sky” would have been unfeasible, it would have taken about two minutes for Williams to call a manager and ask him to check if there was a gun missing from open display. The only kind of gun that a shopper could have casually picked up would have been a relatively harmless pellet gun, or something like it. And this, in turn, would have saved a man’s life.
Now let’s take a look at Williams’s statement about the actual shooting: 13:30-17;00
5:04 OFFICER WILLIAMS: “I heard him (Darkow) say drop the weapon … And as he said that I just panned down the aisle. I saw a black male and I saw a rifle in grasp. Uhm. The male would not drop the rifle, uhm, it looked like a typical assault rifle in hand. Uhm, like I say he didn’t drop the rifle, Darkow said it again, to drop the rifle, and at that point he made…he was looking right at us. So he didn’t drop the rifle after Darkow repeatedly told him to drop it …He had the rifle within his body and he made what I can only describe as, like, an aggressive stance with it as he was starting to make like a movement, like, to the right or left, like he was going to do something with the rifle.
Just as in the case of the Darkow statement/interview, here we have Officer Williams, lying. Either that, or at twenty feet, a man on a cell phone looks to him exactly like a man preparing to shoot a rifle. We have already belabored the fact that anyone could see that Crawford was not in an aggressive posture, ready to fire his weapon. Just as we stated in the chapter about Trayvon Martin that nobody, ever, in the history of attacking people, has jumped out of the bushes to ambush at the same moment that they are sweet talking their girlfriend on the phone—which was the case, according to the time stamps—similarly, it seems preposterous to say that Crawford would be idly talking on the phone at the same instant that he is getting ready to attack innocent shoppers in a Walmart.
Officer Williams knew he had plenty of time to either order Crawford to drop the gun. Keep in mind, this is an Open Carry state, meaning there is nothing illegal about what Crawford is doing; there is not even anything startling or surprising in what Crawford is doing, not if you come from Ohio and hang out in Ohio. Officer Williams even mentioned repeatedly that he was used to seeing men carrying guns, especially in stores where guns were displayed, purchased, returned,
handled. But then again maybe, just maybe, it’s different in this cop’s mind when it’s a black man carrying the weapon. Maybe Williams is only accustomed to seeing white people carrying weapons while invoking Open Carry laws. Maybe the historically trigger happy Officer Williams just doesn’t like the idea of a nigger toting a gun through a Walmart.
Just as we saw with Officer Darkow, the interview with the State of Ohio investigator grows awkward when Williams is confronted with an obvious procedural omission”
INVESTIGATOR (30:04): Sean, do you recall either of you identifying yourselves as police, at any point during that response?
WILLIAMS: I don’t recall that being said.
(Think about that for a moment. It is a crowded Walmart, and like all Walmarts, there is chatter, bustle, maybe the occasional raised voice—I often hear raised voices towards unruly children at our Walmart—but these police do not even identify themselves. It is their expectation that John Crawford will look up
INVESTIGATOR: Are you basing that on—is that something you would normally do?
WILLIAMS: It depends on the speed of what’s going on. When we reached the end, you’re talking about the final--
INVESTIGATOR: --When you confronted him.
WILLIAMS: When we confronted the suspect, my sergeant was already giving commands to him, and that’s what drew my attention to him. He was giving commands, and I didn’t really have time to say anything myself to him, before I shot him.
INVESTIGATOR: Stick on that for a minute … Do you recall, if we’re up to the point where we’re at the subject, do you recall Darkow saying, “Drop your weapon, drop your weapon.” Did you say something further to the subject?
WILLIAMS: I did not.
Then there is the even greater lie than the matter of the cell phone. There is the lie that is the matter of police communication with Crawford, and any effort they might have made to talk to the “perp”. Putting it quite simply, they shouted for him to drop his weapon, and then immediately opened fire upon him, without giving him a chance to comply. Science has long known that the human brain cannot process more than about six syllables per second—and that is if the listener is attuned to the message. So if the officers were both shouting at John to “Drop your Weapon”, it would have taken John at least a second to understand the meaning of the words—but keep in mind, in a crowded and noisy Walmart, where John didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, and where he was talking on the phone, it might easily have taken him a
few seconds to even realize that the words were directed at him. The witnesses disagreed with the cops’ version of what happened; they were in accord that the orders were given and shots were fired at virtually the same time: forensic analysis of the shooting specifically breaks it down that a mere .36 seconds passed in between the shouting of the orders to drop the gun, and the firing of the shots that killed John.
And still the lies about: the officers testified that John Crawford was turning towards them in a threatening way. Not true. The dead body tells the truth. Forensics pathologists all over the world—the world watches us, in these matters—were quick to ask, if he was facing you as a threat, pointing and staring and confronting, that why did the bullet enter his side, which could only happen if he was turned away from you? And, of course, the camera tells a different story. We can see the last seconds of his life in film, and they show that John Crawford was clearly not being an aggressor towards the officers.
Experts have analyzed the videotapes (and any layperson can as well), and have determined that Crawford was given one third of a second to comply. If you do a frame by frame breakdown of the shooting video, it could (could) be just under three seconds that John Crawford was given to react. The reason for the disparity---and a tiny one, by the way, is because we don’t have audio from the eye-in-the-sky, and it is impossible to synch the order to “put it down” (head on the other end of the phone Crawford was talking into) with the actions on the surveillance video. But it is certainly under three seconds, for that is when the police come into the frame, the first occasion when they could have spotted John to yell a command.
Now given what we know about the human brain, (whether you as Harvard Medical School, the magazine Scientific American, or the Society for Neuroscience, they will all tell you that six syllables per second is about all the human mind can comprehend. So, if Crawford hears PUT IT DOWN PUT IT DOWN three times, it means he needs a second or two first, understand what was being said. And that assumes that he knows that it is HE who is being addressed in a loud and crowded place, from people an aisle away. And that assumes he knows what “It”- of course he could figure it out. But he literally needs a second or two. Then another second or two to comply.
In addition to which, the person he was talking to on the other end of the phone testified that she heard John say frantically “It isn’t real”—a logical reaction and an attempt to diffuse the situation. Was John Crawford refusing to drop his weapon? Of course not. I am sure, given the gravity of the situation, if the officers had allowed John a few more seconds, of course he would have dropped it. John Crawford wasn’t given a chance. Again I say, watch the video
14:05 OFFICER WILLIAMS: “He made—I’ve been trying to find words to describe this for the last few days—uhm, he did to drop the weapon, he made a movement that I interpreted as aggressive, as he was moving with the rifle but not dropping it, I felt at that time he had a rifle and a position where he could have raised it up and shot either me or Sergeant Darkow.”
At 1:08 Williams lies outright, (FBI profiler 101, hands over mouth, locked feet, rubbing legs)
OFFICER WILLIAMS: When he dropped, I could see he was bleeding….I tell him to roll over onto his belly and put his hands behind his back. Uhm, he was kinda squirming and yelling and screaming, stuff that I couldn’t understand. He wasn’t immediately cooperative as far as putting his hands behinds his back. I had to get on top of him and kind of hold his hands together to cuff him. When I cuffed him I could see he had a very serious injury to one of his elbows and he had another wound to his other arm”
This tells us something all too creepy about Williams. Setting aside for a moment the fact that they shot first, asked questions later. . .Williams admits that he can see how badly Crawford’s arms and elbows are wounded—yet he brutalizes Crawford further when Crawford fails to immediately “comply” by putting his hands behind his back. But Williams is not so heartless than he fails to offer cheerful words of encouragement after he has shot Crawford, then yanked his body around cuffing the poor bastard:
WILLIAMS (19:15): He was still making noises and moving, uhm, as we stood over him, so I kept giving him words of encouragement, telling him to stay awake, stay awake, uhm, there were a couple of times where it seemed like he passed out or fell asleep, and I was kind of tapping him on the side of the face, trying to get him to wake up, Wake up wake up wake up, trying to keep him awake and keep him alive.
As the tragedy of the shooting of John Crawford was coming to a climax at one end of the Beavercreek Walmart, there was another tragedy amping up just a few departments over. John Crawford’s girlfriend, Tasha, had been buying the ingredients for S’mores. She and John were going to have a barbecue for the kids the next day. But as soon as Officer Williams fired his weapon, pandemonium ensued in the Walmart, as police and store security hurried all of the customers out of the store. Tasha was among the people directed out to the parking lot. But after frantic searching, she was the only person not able to find the person she came with. She described him to the police—a black man wearing blue jeans and a black shirt. They immediately recognized the description, and hustled her brusquely into a cruiser without explanation. Later that night, she found herself in a brutal interview with a detective—still knowing nothing whatsoever about the fate of John.
Now, as the author, I am going to do everything I can to see it from the detective’s point of view, out of the respect which I hold for police in general, as I have discussed earlier. In the following interview of John Crawford’s girlfriend, the detective does a relentless, highly aggressive, brutal job of trying to find out what Tasha knows about that rifle John had in his possession while in the
And under different circumstances, I can see how the detective might defend his harsh treatment of Tasha. Up to that point, he might claim that he had every reason to believe that John had the rifle with him when he entered the Walmart. And that would have meant that John surely must have had it with him in Tasha’s car. And it is impossible to believe that John could have a formidable rifle in the car with him--particularly as Tasha stated that the only bag he was carrying with him was a small white grocery bag--without Tasha being fully aware that he had a gun. Hence, the detective is thinking, she must have been complicit. Hence, not only must he be ruthless in his approach to finding out what she knows, the detective also probably found himself morally justified in the terror tactics which he employed.
No. No, no, no.
Here is why I cannot justify the detective’s vicious and brutal questioning: It is a detective’s job to find things out. To detect. And therefore, the first thing that he should have attempted to find out, to detect, is where the gun came from. All of the officials on the case have made it clear that that they knew full well that Walmart sold guns, and that in an open carry state like Ohio, seeing a man in a Walmart, in a place that sold guns, is absolutely nothing unusual:
Or, just go to Google Images and type in: OPEN CARRY WALMART
Get an eyeful? These are the kinds of Ammosexuals that get away with dragging their knuckles and their semi-automatics around Sam Walton’s pride and joy, but John Crawford gets gunned down?
The detective’s first job, before he even walked into the interview, should have been to ask detectives and officers who were still on the scene and who had returned from the scene what they knew about the gun. As I have stated earlier, it is impossible to believe that anybody trained in firearms, including Officers Williams and Darkow, didn’t immediately examine the “weapon” by dead John’s side and immediately realize that it was not a semi-automatic, but a store BB gun.
By the time the detective has Tasha cornered in the interview, over an hour has gone by, and the entire Beavercreek Police Department must surely be buzzing with the tragic and embarrassing news that they shot a man carrying an empty pellet gun which John picked up while in the Walmart—and all of this in an open carry state, no less. By the time this poor girl is terrorized in the interview, it will have been completely clear to the police, from viewing Walmart’s security tapes, that John picked up the BB gun from a box in the sporting goods department, and that poor
Tasha had no idea about any of this. For the detective in the interview to be so cruel, accusatory, insensitive, and vicious is absolutely unforgivable.
The detective’s relentless questioning goes on for an hour, but this six minute clip is enough to give the reader a sense of what the terrified young woman endured. It is worth noting that in the interview, he threatened her both with jail, and with the possibility of losing her children. A partial transcript is offered below the link.
DETECTIVE CURD: Did he have a weapon?
TASHA: No, not that I know of.
DETECTIVE CURD: Now I want to be very clear, OK, that man’s got a weapon, at some point I understand, ok, that man produced that weapon. That man had a weapon when you picked him up, you had it in your car or something. You understand that we’re investigating a serious incident? You lie to me, and you might be on your way to jail. So I wanna be very clear about this.
TASHA: I swear to God, I swear to God, on my kids, I have a job, and a family, on everything I love--
DETECTIVE CURD: Where did he get the gun?
TASHA: I don’t know, I swear to God, Sir, I swear to God, on everything that I love, you can give me a lie detector test. I swear to God, I swear to God.
DETECTIVE CURD: You lie to me, and you might be on your way to jail .. .I wanna be very clear with you that I am not playing games here. . .I don’t know all the details …you need to tell me the truth.. . .Don’t tell me “not that you know of”, ‘cause that’s the first sign that somebody’s not telling the truth. . .this might be your last chance. . . .And the truth is you knew at some moment that he did carry a gun. Did he ever mention “shoot that bitch” or something like that?….Your statement to me is you didn’t know he had a gun, is that what you’re telling me?. . .I’m ,uh, shew!. . . .Are you under the influence of anything? Have you been drinking? Drugs? See, I know your eyes are a kinda messed up looking, and you seem a bit lethargic at times and I don’t know if it’s cause you upset or what. . .”
The tragedy goes on. Detective Curd has made no effort to learn what everybody else involved in the investigation knows by now—that it was a BB gun, owned by Walmart, and that John Crawford casually took it from the display box while he was in the store and chatting on his phone. And nobody involved in this shoddy, incompetent investigation has thought to knock on the door and tell the detective what they have learned. Instead, everybody is OK with a cop
terrorizing this poor black girl, who is really just another victim of the Beavercreek PD.
A few months later, Tasha would be dead in a car accident. She was the passenger in a car that was travelling between 90 and 100 miles an hour. If this was just an accident based on the poor driving skills of the person behind the wheel, then it would be tragic enough. However, after years of conducting research into the suspicious and untimely deaths of victims whom powerful people wish to see dead, I find it impossible not to wonder if Tasha was the victim of foul play, of a car cyber-attack.
Yes, I know that sounds terribly far-fetched at first blush. But firstly, Tasha was a loving mother with a good job in senior care, and it would have been wildly out of character for her to allow herself to be in a car driven by someone who would go 100 miles an hour through suburbia in the middle of the afternoon. More importantly, Keep in mind that not only was Tasha responsible for helping to humiliate Beavercreek police, Tasha’s testimony was going to be key, with the power to sway the jury in the wrongful death federal lawsuit filed by John’s family against Walmart, the city of Beavercreek, and the Beavercreek Police Department. And far too many witnesses and whistleblowers have suffered suspicious deaths for me, personally, to deny that possibility thus far. According to the Centers for Disease Control, your chances of dying in a car accident are about 1 in 6700. We do not find it odd that witnesses, whistleblowers, and others seen as undesirable by governments, corporations, another powerful entities suddenly beat those longshot odds and become winners in the death lottery?
I realize that the above comments have a very polarizing impact on readers. But I ask you, spend a few minutes watching and reading the information below. It is a strange new world. Remember, in order for someone’s car to be cyber hacked and controlled remotely, all that needs to happen is that someone needs to want to cyber hack your car and control it remotely.
Before we leave this sad chapter about a shooting in a Walmart, we must add yet one more death to the list of casualties that came from the gunning down of John Crawford.
Imagine this, if you will . . .
You are a mom. You have four beautiful kids. You work as a nurse in a senior care center. You love your job helping people. The seniors love you. What would we do without you, says your staff. Your boss knows you as competent, caring, very hard working, a heart of gold, a free spirit, full of life. You make some small difference for the better in this world. And you know it.
You are also getting ready to be married for the second time. A fresh start, a new day.
You are at Walmart, buying school supplies for the new school year. Your kids, sick of summer, can hardly wait. You have a teenage son in tow, and also shopping with you is your beautiful ten year old daughter. And, you are buying things for your upcoming nuptials. The kids back in class, and soon, a handsome new husband! Life is glorious.
Today is Tuesday. You are getting married on Saturday. So much to do, so little time.
Much less time, even, than you can possibly imagine.
Shots ring out. In an instinctive maternal panic, you grab your kids and run. You are terrified.
Then you have a heart attack, you fall to the floor of the Walmart, your big heart failing right in front of your children.
And then you are dead.
The coroner ruled her death a homicide, brought about by the chaos which ensued after the SWAT like approach that the police employed, based on one vague and rambling phone call.
Angela Williams left behind four children.
Shame on you, Ronald Ritchie. Shame on you, Beaverton PD.
It didn’t need to go down the way that it did. The victims’ blood is on your hands.
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