Green County Prosecutor Stephen Haller refused to charge Officer Sean Williams when he shot and killed an African American man simply talking on the phone while holding a toy rifle in the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart. As audacious as his refusal to seek justice for Crawford is, it is an even more flagrant disregard for Ohio state law when we consider the fact that Haller had issued a memo on “Open Carry” of firearms.
The memo was disseminated to “All Greene County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Fischer” of Greene County, where Beavercreek is located, after an encounter with the co-founder of a local Dayton, Ohio Cop Block chapter (part of the umbrella of Ohio Cop Block chapters), Virgil Văduva. Virgil is also the founder of Ohio Open Carry which organized the armed protest at the Walmart a little over a week ago.
The incident with Virgil brought the Beavercreek Police Department a lot of bad press, and embarrassment, as they harassed Văduva and demanded that he provide identification. He refused. The video circulated all over the world, leading to Beavercreek Police being briefed on the legality of open carry in the state of Ohio. This means that Officer Sean Williams was without any excuse. He knew the law when he opened fire on John Crawford.
The memo admonished all chiefs to inform their officers of the following points:
1. Open carry of a pistol, rifle or shotgun is absolutely legal in the State of Ohio, under the Ohio State Constitution, the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio Revised Code. Police must realize that this alone does not constitute a criminal offense.
2. An officer may ask for identification if they see someone open carrying, but the individual has no legal obligation to comply with this request.
3. If the information is volunteered, officers can run a check to make sure the person is eligible to own a firearm legally.
4. If the individual refuses, the officer cannot force nor compel them to identify themselves unless a crime is being committed.
5. Officers are to be reminded that there is no punishment for refusing to identify yourself to a police officer if no crime has been committed.
6. Officers can warn the individual that if public panic ensues, then this can result in a charge of disorderly conduct, but that open carry alone is not a violation of the law.
Officers with any questions were instructed to contact Haller for further information. We have obtained this document but no explanation as to why Haller then did not charge Officer Sean Williams, who should have followed the steps instructed in this memo, asking John Crawford for identification, running that identification if Crawford volunteered it, and otherwise leaving him alone.
It must be remembered that our citizen journalists who were at the scene of the shooting minutes after it took place, explain that all Walmart employees and witnesses were unanimous about the fact that no one fled the store before Officer Williams opened fire. This is supported by the Walmart security footage which shows the same thing. Therefore, Crawford could not even have been charged with disorderly conduct under Ohio law.
The real question is why Haller would issue this memo and then not abide by the law which he so clearly articulated to Greene County police officials. We have contacted Haller about this and he has refused to comment.
Stay tuned; this weekend will see the biggest protests yet at the Ohio state capital, demanding JUSTICE FOR JOHN CRAWFORD!
(Article by Jackson Marciana, Moreh B.D.K. and E.J. Newsman)