COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A student group led about 150 people in a protest outside Ohio’s Statehouse on Saturday in an attempt to push for more action in the fatal shooting of a man in a suburban Dayton Wal-Mart store.
The Ohio Student Association held the rally after demonstrations and sit-ins this month at the Beavercreek police department. They want the officer who fatally shot 22-year-old John Crawford III fired, among other demands. A special grand jury met after the Aug. 5 shooting and concluded police officers’ actions were justified.
Police have said that they believed the air rifle Crawford had picked up was a real rifle and that he didn’t respond to commands to drop it. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating. Crawford was black; the officers involved are white.
Speakers addressed the crowd on the Statehouse steps, with one calling for a peaceful revolution in thinking about the police use of violence against African-Americans.
“I believe that we will win!” the crowd chanted.
Among the protesters was Suzanne Patzer, 55, of Columbus.
“I was down in Beavercreek at the first demonstration, and from what I could tell and what I saw, someone in the store overreacted … maybe because the guy was black,” said Patzer, an administrator at Columbus State Community College.
The police officer who shot Crawford, Sean Williams, said in a written narrative that Crawford didn’t respond to repeated commands to drop the weapon and turned toward officers in an aggressive manner.
A man who called 911 to report that Crawford was carrying a gun in the store provided some support for the officer’s version, telling state investigators he heard an officer repeatedly say “put it down” about two seconds before the shooting, according to a summary of the interview released by the state.
An attorney for the Crawford family has questioned the officers’ versions of events, saying store surveillance video didn’t show Crawford acting aggressively.
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