On a cold evening on January 15, 2011 I was eating a burger with a friend at a small restaurant in Beavercreek, when three men with badges and guns interrupted our dinner and demanded with barking orders that we identify ourselves immediately. Our supposed crime? Carrying firearms openly; at least that’s what I assumed as the officers refused to tell us what crime we were being suspected of having committed and did not clearly communicate to me under what State law we were required to provide identification to them, and copies of our Concealed Carry permits.
A few minutes earlier a man in the restaurant called 911 and told the operator that a “crazy looking European guy” has a gun on him. A beard and a warm knitted hat apparently are qualifiers for “crazy looking” in this new United States of America. The operator told him incorrectly that it was against the law to openly carry a gun in Ohio. The sergeant on duty, Colmes, also gave the same incorrect information to the dispatcher, creating a very dangerous situation between two armed men having dinner and three armed police officers being dispatched to handle “crazy looking people” after a misleading and outright false 911 call. You can listen to the January 15, 2011 calls and dispatch audio here: https://vimeo.com/19343973 (Note: the video displays an incorrect time-stamp of 2010. The correct year is 2011)
As a result of this unpleasant and dangerous encounter in 2011, I wrote an article titled Local Police in Dire Need of Law Education, Good Manners.
Why is this important? Because unlike John Crawford III who was shot to death inside the Beavercreek Wal-Mart on August 5 2014, I lived through my encounter to tell my story of unprofessional, immature and outright illegal behavior of the Beavercreek Police Department that evening. Three years later, an encounter similar with the one I had with Beavercreek Police Department turned out to be deadly for someone else. This could have been prevented, should the education and training promised in 2011 followed through.
To add to the injury of inaccurate statements promoted through the mainstream media by the Beavercreek Police, The Greene County Herald was able to establish first-hand that up until the point of the actual Police shooting, the Beavercreek Wal-Mart was a calm setting, directly contradicting statements from a 911 call that a dangerous man with a rifle was inside the store causing mayhem and intimidating other shoppers with the air-rifle.
Accounts from one individual present in the store minutes before the shooting and at another individual who directly encountered John Crawford III immediately before the shooting, and made eye-contact with him while he was holding the rifle, directly contradict statements made by the 911 caller, the police and mainstream media reports published immediately after the incident.
One witness explaining the circumstances to the Greene County Herald said,
“I was also at Wal-Mart that night. When I walked out to my car there were sirens already on their way (even though I didn’t know where they were headed.) I was in that section of the store the entire time I was in there — ending at the place where the school sale stuff is, in the main aisle near pets and toys. Anyway, no one acted strangely. No one seemed in a hurry to leave. There were two men dressed business casual near the checkout standing there who obviously worked for Wal-Mart. They caught my eye and smiled at me. When a woman entered the store and asked where electronics was, they directed her straight back. They were not asking anyone to leave. No one was rushing out of there. I had no clue anything was out of the ordinary except the presence of those men. I thought at the time maybe they were visiting district managers or something. Now I am assuming they were plain clothes security, but I don’t know for sure. But no one was being evacuated while I was in there. I am glad I didn’t hear or see the shooting.”
It appears that the store was a calm, safe and peaceful place until the Beavercreek Police Officers responded and started firing their weapons inside the store, without any thought as to where their bullets would end up, or whether or not other peaceful and innocent bystanders could be harmed or even killed by their actions.
Another eyewitness to the shooting who was much closer to the events surrounding the death of Angela Williams, stated that he walked with his mother right past John Crawford III and they made eye-contact with him. After noticing the rifle, his mother said “It probably isn’t even real” and they continued walking past him. The eyewitness states that they did not feel in danger or even feared John Crawford III as he gave them no reason to do so. Immediately after, Beavercreek Police came in and shot John Crawford III, causing Angela Williams to run away panicked from the scene and collapse and die. According to this eyewitness, it was the action of the police, that created panic inside the store and caused Angela Williams to run away scared, not the actions of John Crawford III. These statements contradict many initial police statements and statements made by mainstream media reports.
We could continue to dissect the facts of the situation, but one thing has become very clear after the shooting of John Crawford III: the Beavercreek Police Department is comprised of dangerous and unaccountable individuals who continue to display a disregard for law, lack the necessary training to interact with law-abiding citizens in a proper manner and are too quick to pull the trigger on their service weapons, seeking to justify the shooting.
It has become clear to me over the past two weeks that I could have very well been John Crawford III, shot to death in a Beavercreek burger joint because a 911 caller was offended by my legal carrying of a firearm and used exaggerated language to inflame the police attitude towards legal and open gun carrying.
Yes, I have encountered the Beavercreek Police and lived to tell the story. John Crawford III was not that lucky.
Note: No eyewitnesses names or information will be made public in order to protect their privacy and maintain their safety.