Ohio attorney general appoints special prosecutor to investigate Wal-Mart shooting

A special prosecutor will investigate the death of John Crawford III, who was shot and killed by police at an Ohio Wal-Mart earlier this month, authorities announced Tuesday.

Crawford was killed at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, a suburb of Dayton, on Aug. 5. The Beavercreek police told reporters the following day that Crawford was killed after he did not listen to police orders that he drop an air rifle, which can be used to shoot BBs or pellets; a 911 caller had reported that Crawford was waving the air rifle at people. An attorney for Crawford’s family said that surveillance video from the Wal-Mart shows that Crawford was only holding the air rifle and was not waving it around.

While Crawford’s death didn’t attract as much attention as the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, the three had something in common: They all involved black men who died after encounters with police officers and they all sparked larger discussions about the way police use force.

Now, the investigation into Crawford’s death has something else in common with the inquiries into how Brown and Garner died, as a Greene County grand jury will be impaneled to investigate the shooting. Grand juries are also considering the death of Brown, who was shot by an officer named Darren Wilson, and Garner, who died after he was placed in a chokehold.

The Ohio attorney general and the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney said Tuesday that Mark E. Piepmeier, an attorney in the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, will lead the prosecuting team. They said his history of prosecuting shootings involving police officers showed why he was selected for this investigation.

“We wanted to find a prosecutor who has a long history of prosecuting felony cases and one who has extensive experience handling officer-involved shootings,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) said in a statement.

Investigators have conducted about 70 interviews, reviewed reams of documents relating to the two Beavercreek officers involved in the shooting and looked through video footage captured by the Wal-Mart’s cameras.

The grand jury proceedings will begin on Sept. 22, rather than Sept. 3 as originally planned, DeWine said Tuesday.

Another person in the Wal-Mart also died after the situation. Angela Williams, a customer in the store, collapsed after running from the chaotic scene and was later pronounced dead. The autopsy results showing the cause of her death are not available yet.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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