DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Before the death of George Floyd spurred thousands of protests around the world, the shooting death of John Crawford III in 2014 at the Walmart in Beavercreek was worldwide news six years ago.
Crawford was shot while carrying a BB gun inside a Walmart by Beavercreek police after a 911 caller reported he was carrying a rifle in the store. His death was one of several police shootings that year that sparked national outcry and protests.
Floyd’s death, which occurred while he was being arrested by a Minneapolis police officer in May, started protests that have lasted through the summer and into the fall. Protests continue to spark violence in cities like Portland and in Kenosha, Wis., following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
John Crawford, the father of John Crawford III, said the protests that have erupted across the country this year were inevitable. He said it was apparent in 2014 after the shooting of his son in the Beavercreek Walmart that the country had not addressed issues with race in policing. He says the advent of surveillance technology and smartphones have made inequality more apparent.
“It’s to the point where people are tired of being tired,” Crawford told WDTN.com on Monday. “It doesn’t have to be this way. I can see it as I did six years ago – it’s going through phases. This generation of young people isn’t going to stand by idly and allow this to happen. That just comes with neglect and America’s unwillingness to change and to hold cops accountable for their actions. That’s all we’re asking for.”
Since his son was killed, Crawford has been raising his two grandchildren. He’s taken part in panels with the families of other police shooting victims like Michael Brown Sr., whose son was shot by police in Ferguson, Mo., four days after his Crawford III’s death, and Samaria Rice, whose 12-year-old son Tamir was shot by Cleveland police in November 2014.
He said the families of police shooting victims have their own circle and support group on Facebook. Crawford, who lives in Tennessee and works in real estate, said he recently attended an event with Michael Brown Sr. in Memphis. He said he continues to battle for his son in court. Crawford family attorneys settled with the City of Beavercreek in the spring for $1.7 million back in the spring, which was part of a civil suit along with Walmart. Walmart still remains a party to the suit, which is in federal district court in Dayton.
Crawford said he still hasn’t escaped his son’s death. He said the surveillance footage of his son being shot has been uploaded all over the internet and is inescapable and he’s constantly reliving his loss.
“You relive it,” Crawford said. “You’ll always relive it. If somebody tells you can get over something like that, it’s not something you can. When you actually see it, and there’s footage all over the world and all over YouTube – I can’t get over it.”
He said he’s been told by family and friends he’s never taken time to grieve the loss of his son, even after six years.
“I probably won’t until I get some closure or justice for my son,” Crawford said. “Everyone seems to say this (to me), ‘Until you get something substantial that will satisfy your spirit.’ I’m grieving but I haven’t had a chance to release, you know what I mean?”
Walmart Corporate provided WDTN.com with a statement regarding the Crawford family’s civil suit: “We continue to sympathize with the family and loved ones of John Crawford. Out of respect for everyone involved and because this matter is in litigation, we are not going to discuss the details of this matter outside of court.”
Part of Crawford’s continued work is the proposed John Crawford III Act, which is on the Change.Org website as a petition. He recently came out in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is before Congress. You can read the legislation on the U.S. Congress website.