Another Isolated Incident: Cops face no charges for shooting black man looking at pellet guns in Wal-Mart

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In Ohio it is now apparently legal to shoot a black man who is carrying (what appears to be) a gun…if you’re a cop.

A grand jury in Greene County, Ohio decided on Wednesday not to indict either of the two police officers who responded to a 911 call about an armed man in the Beavercreek Wal-Mart store. One of the officers shot the man, 22-year old John Crawford III, who turned out to be talking on a cell phone carrying an unloaded pellet gun that he had taken off the shelf of the store.

Store video of the incident shows Crawford just standing still at the end of an aisle in the pet section, waving the toy gun casually back and forth by his side, then falling to the ground as the armored officers approach with their rifles drawn.

This is the second widely reported incident this month of law enforcement officials avoiding charges for non-threatening killing citizens. Earlier, a California deputy was cleared by a grand jury for running into a killing a cyclist while sending an email in his squad car.

While this Wal-Mart incident raises serious concerns about the accountability of law enforcement for mistakes and oppression, it raises even more serious questions about how protected our Second Amendment rights really are.

As the recent open carry movement has tried to show (rather clumsily), American citizens not only have the right to “keep” arms, we also have the right to “bear” them, to carry them around at will. Many retail outlets and restaurants have pushed back, banning openly carried arms from their property, but Wal-Mart is not among them. Their policy appears to be to follow state law, which allows open carry in Ohio.

If it’s legal to carry a gun in Ohio, even in a store, why would police even respond to a 911 call reporting someone carrying a gun? After verifying there is no actual threat, shouldn’t emergency operators just say “that’s legal” and hang up? Once police were on the seen, shouldn’t they have found Crawford, seen that he was just carrying (what appeared to be) a gun, not threatening or harming anyone, and left him alone?

Further complicating the situation is the fact that Crawford was black. A couple states away in Missouri (you know, where Ferguson is), a group of white females were open carrying in a Wal-Mart last year and were, get this, not shot and killed for their non-crime. They were, however, stopped and harrassed by local police who were also responding to a 911 call about the non-threatening activity.

The Justice Department is investigating the case at the request of Ohio governor John Kasich and state attorney general Mike DeWine and will “take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes”. Seems pretty clear that being shot while standing around with (what appears to be) a gun is a violation of Crawford’s rights.


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