XENIA, Ohio, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Family and friends of a man shot and killed by police at an Ohio Walmart said they are angry and confused at a grand jury's decision not to indict the officers.
John Crawford III, 22, was shot by Officer Sean Williams at a Walmart in Beavercreek on August 5. Police said Crawford ignored calls to drop a pellet gun he had picked up off a shelf and was carrying around the store.
Surveillance video and synced 911 audio were released shortly after the grand jury's decision was announced Wednesday. In the video, the officer fires at Crawford almost immediately after yelling something at him.
"Special Prosecutor Piepmeier's press conference shows clearly that he presented this case like he was defending the officers rather than prosecuting on behalf of this family," said attorney Michael Wright of Wednesday's announcement. "Rather than advocate for the constitutional rights of John Crawford, Attorney General [Mike] DeWine and Piepmeier made excuses for these officers' actions and stated the officers' actions were reasonable."
Wright said the family would continue to call for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to determine if the shooting violated Crawford's civil rights. The DOJ has announced it is independently investigating the incident.
Crawford's father, John Crawford Jr., said he is not interested in a wrongful death lawsuit, and believes the "impulsive" officer murdered his son when he failed to follow protocol.
"[Piepmeier] himself said John Crawford did not commit any crime, that John Crawford did nothing wrong," Crawford Jr. said. "If that is the case, why is he not here with us?"
But Piepmeier said the jury made the right call, based on the information the officer would have had coming in. The 911 caller said Crawford was waving a rifle in the store and it looked as if he was loading it and pointing it at children.
"The law says police officers are judged by what is in their mind at the time," he said. "You have to put yourself in their shoes at that time with the information they had."
But Crawford Jr. said the video tells a different story, and added that his son was on the phone with the mother of his two sons while he walked around the store. He said it would have been impossible for Crawford to have heard police commands before Williams opened fire.
"We were waiting to see him menacing, waving this thing in a threatening position with women or children," Crawford Jr. told The Enquirer earlier this month, after viewing the footage. "None of that happened from the footage we saw. He wasn't doing anything. He was just standing there. The final analysis is that my son was murdered."
"All this nonsense of 'Put the weapon down' two or three times," he said. "There was no reaction from him. There couldn't have been a cadence given."
The jury considered charges of murder, reckless homicide or negligent homicide.