When Officer Sean Williams gunned down John Crawford in the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart, two of our citizen journalists were on the scene within what amounted to minutes.
“What took the longest was getting into the parking lot. We were on our way to Colonel Glenn, one block parallel to a different store. But when a number of officers swarmed the shopping center, we decided to pull in and see what was going on,” our reporters explained.
It didn’t take long to find out some of the specifics, “people were running everywhere, to their cars, to other stores like Office Depot. They were trying to get as far away from Walmart as possible.”
Why? “They said there was a ‘crazed gun man firing at shoppers.’ Little did we know then, but this ‘crazed gunman’ who they were referring to was not John Crawford, it was Officer Williams,” our other citizen journalist on the scene added.
Our reporters say that they’ve deliberately kept their names out of this because of previous harassment by the Beavercreek Police Department.
“A couple of years ago we filmed the Beavercreek cops arresting a lady who was begging for money on Christmas Eve. We had just given her some cash and we watched the Beavercreek cops literally pocket it. We pulled over and started filming. We gave her another $20 and challenged the officer to steal it while we were filming.”
But it didn’t end there. “The officer began screaming at us that we were not to approach him. He was grabbing his sidearm, even though we were a good 15 or more feet away. We left, realizing that we were about to get shot, and we put the video on YouTube.”
That’s when the threats from Beavercreek cops began.
“We were threatened day in and day out for a month. The Beavercreek cops called us, inboxed us at email addresses they should not have known. They threatened us with personal harm and even threatened to get us kicked out of [local University].”
Eventually they took the video down and the threats from the Beavercreek police came to an end.
“It didn’t surprise us when we heard about the Beavercreek Police shooting a black man in Walmart. That is what they do: they arrest or – in this case – kill people who come in from outside of the area and make the town seem lower income. The Supreme Court even had to stop them from their racist ban on bus stops, which aimed to keep black people out of Fairfield Commons Mall.” That mall is right across the street from the Walmart where John Crawford was shot.
Our reporters told us something else about the Beavercreek Police that might surprise you.
“The funny thing is, there are some decent folks in the Beavercreek department. I know a couple of them from [...] and one has told me several things about this case… but they wish to remain anonymous, of course.”
We, of course, have withheld the connection of our reporters to the officers they referred to, as this would compromise anonymity.
Our reporter turned to one of these sources in the Beavercreek Police Department in particular, early on when we were the first to identify the single shooter of Crawford. They told us the specific name and history of Officer Sean Williams, before any of this was public knowledge, as well as the fact that he had killed before, in fact being the only Beavercreek officer to have killed anyone in the line of work in the history of the department.
So we turned to them again about this case, and this is what they told our reporters…
“Nobody on the force wants Williams here anymore.”
“Why?” our reporters asked. “Could you elaborate?”
“He’s a liability. We all know it. There was an investigation last time he shot someone. It seemed more clear cut, but the family disputed his claims – said that he never charged him with the knife, that Williams was lying. I don’t know who is telling the truth, and neither did anyone else except the family, Sean and a dead vet[eran].”
We asked further, “what about him being a liability? Why won’t the Chief just fire him?”
“It’s not that simple,” the officer explained to us. “He has history here: family history. The Chief honors that.”
The officer seemed to have been referring to the fact that Officer Sean William’s father works for the department and has for decades. He in fact parked a K-9 unit vehicle with a barking police dog right near where protesters were blocking the entrance to the department during last week’s occupation of the Beavercreek Police Department. In spite of the illegal barricade and goading arrest by activists, police stood down as the department was shut down.
“Sean is a lose cannon. That’s how many of us feel. We want to get back to work. But he’s making this our daily priority. We’re constantly being briefed about one thing or another related to this case. Once he’s back on the beat, what if he shoots someone else? Is this just something we have to expect every few years now?”
We asked the officer if this is the general consensus among officers at the Beavercreek Police Department.
“Everyone doesn’t feel as strongly about this as I do, but I would say yes, that is the general climate, aside from people close to [the Williams family].”
This Saturday there is a major protest demanding justice for John Crawford at the state capital in Columbus. The officer we spoke to encouraged protesters to “keep it up. There is nothing you are doing that is illegal. If other cops don’t like it: too damn bad.”
We asked about the blockade of the department too, they replied: “I am not privy to all of the details, but I will tell you that while there was some discussion, I don’t think anyone was ever going to get arrested. The Department is out of the way for many reasons. But one is that you can protest there all day and no one will know unless they know. It was an inconvenience, but at the end of the day, Chief told you that he’s gonna do whatever-the-hell he wants anyway. So you packed up, you went home. That’s what he knew would happen. He’s just hoping it all blows over and fizzles out. If arrests would have been made, it would have brought more attention to this. He [the Chief] just wants this to go away – I just want this to go away. But we disagree on what that means for Sean. I don’t think this can or even should go away until he is off the streets for good. Then we can get back to doing our jobs.”
Help us get the word out. The movement to bring justice for John Crawford is just getting started!