Veteran prosecutor to take fatal Wal-Mart shooting

Wal-Mart Shooting

CINCINNATI (AP) — A veteran prosecutor will present the case of a man fatally shot by police at a Wal-Mart to a grand jury on Sept. 22, Ohio’s attorney general said Tuesday, but an attorney for the man’s family said the investigation was falling short.

Hamilton County prosecutor Mark Piepmeier will lead the inquiry into the shooting and present all the evidence to the special grand jury, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

DeWine said Piepmeier has prosecuted some of Ohio’s biggest cases, including a deadly 1993 prison riot and many involving excessive police force.

Police have said they fatally shot 21-year-old John Crawford III for waving an air rifle at customers and failing to follow their orders to drop it.

DeWine again declined to release store surveillance video of the Aug. 5 shooting, saying he won’t compromise the investigation.

“To put the video out on TV and let it be played, I think is not the right thing to do,” DeWine said. “It’s one of the chief pieces of evidence in this case. To put that out I think would be irresponsible and something people would regret later on.”

DeWine has shown the footage to Crawford’s family. They say it proves that the shooting was unjustified and that Crawford was innocently holding an air rifle while talking on the phone.

They renewed their request Tuesday for the release of the surveillance video, saying the investigation is moving too slowly and delaying justice.

The family’s attorney, Michael Wright, also criticized Piepmeier’s appointment as special prosecutor, saying the U.S. Justice Department in Washington should be investigating the shooting like it’s doing for the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Columbus are monitoring the state investigation, but the Justice Department has not opened its own investigation.

DeWine said Brown’s shooting involved particularly unusual circumstances and that Crawford’s case was being handled in a more typical way, adding that the Justice Department likely will decide whether to get involved after the state case reaches its conclusion.

“This is not unusual, this is what normally happens,” DeWine said. “The Justice Department waits until they see what happens in the state case and then decides if they’re going to open an investigation.”

He declined to address the family’s description of what the surveillance video shows except to say “there’s a fundamental difference between people commenting on what they’ve seen and people seeing it.”

DeWine had previously said a grand jury would look at the case on Sept. 3, but said Tuesday that Piepmeier wasn’t available until Sept. 22.

 

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