The tragic death of John Crawford, an unarmed Black father, at an Ohio Walmart by police is back in the news. In August 2014 John Crawford, 22, went shopping with his girlfriend at the Walmart; the two went their separate ways to shop for personal items while in the store. At some point, Crawford picked up a toy BB gun and played video games while talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone. It was then that Ronald Ritchie thought it would be funny to call police and tell them Crawford had a gun and was pointing it at customers, hinting that he was a potential mass shooter.
Police responded to the scene with guns drawn and approached Crawford from behind and told him to put the weapon down. Crawford turned and told them it was just a toy, but the police opened fire killing the unarmed Black man. Another shopper witnessing the commotion suffered a heart attack and also died during the incident. There was national outrage as Crawford was one in a series of three deaths of unarmed Black men. The other deaths at time included Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Ritchie repeatedly told several media outlets it was all a joke and many people called for him to be charged with some sort of crime. Now almost two years later it seems he will face indictment for his actions that day.
It was announced this week that Fairborn Municipal Court Judge Beth Root ruled that probable cause exists to prosecute Ritchie for his actions. He faces charges of making false alarms, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by maximums of six months in jail and a $1K fine. However, the judge stated there was not probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Ritchie for inciting violence, inducing panic, involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. The case has now been sent to the prosecutor’s office for review and action.