JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III

IN MEMORIAM:
JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III
July 29, 1992 – August 5, 2014
Age 22, Beavercreek, Ohio

Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA January 24, 2015

  John Henrry Crawford III 1409122-john-crawford-jms-1545_c99aabe1740c3690017643debc20f8dd.nbcnews-fp-1280-600  JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III X4822V0B47RY7X1T-l

OBIT: beloved son of Tressa Sherrod and John Crawford, Jr.; loving father of John H., IV and Jayden Crawford; fond grandson of John, Sr. and Joyce Crawford, Annie B. Trimm and Theodore Sherrod, also survived by a host of aunts, uncles, other relatives and friends.

Music: (to come)

  • Opening:
  • Sequence:
  • Offertory
  • Communion Instrumental:

From Cincinnat!.com (by Sheila McLaughlin, smclaughlin@enquirer.com):

CRAWFORD’S LIFE   John Crawford Jr. described his son as a typical 22-year-old who was laid back and very family-oriented. He had once considered going into the military, following in the footsteps of a grandfather who served in the Army.

[John] Crawford III had lived in Cincinnati pretty much all of his life, attending at least 11 private, public or charter schools since entering the first grade in 1998, Cincinnati Public School records show. John Crawford Jr. said he visited [mother Tessa Sherrod and his] only son nearly every weekend.

[John] Crawford III had lived in Cincinnati pretty much all of his life, attending at least 11 private, public or charter schools since entering the first grade in 1998, Cincinnati Public School records show. John Crawford Jr. said he visited [mother Tessa Sherrod and his] only son nearly every weekend.

(His family says he went to the Walmart [the night of his death] to shop for the cookout he was going to attend that night. They say that as he shopped, he talked on his cellphone with LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two baby sons.)

The shooting came seven days after Crawford Jr. had celebrated his son’s 22nd birthday together with a few rounds of pool at Memories Sports Bar in Fairfield, [Ohio,] where Crawford III had resided for three or four years following graduation from Greensburg Christian Academy in Indiana.

[One day,] Crawford III, frustrated by not being able to find a job, had confided to his father that he wanted to start college. Crawford III,

Crawfod's sons BuYV1JmIIAAQQ4L.jpg medium

who had played football in high school, had shopped around for a football scholarship after high school, his father said. When that didn’t happen, sons John IV and Jayden came along– and plans for college were put on hold.

Crawford Jr. was in Fairfield on business that Tuesday [of the shooting] and had stopped by to see if his son, John Crawford III, would join him for dinner. But his son had already left for a cookout in Dayton, Ohio. Crawford Jr. painted the dramatic scene Thursday as he talked to The Enquirer about his son’s life, and what he wants from the investigation into his son’s fatal shooting by police at a Walmart in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek on Aug. 5. The phone call [he received that day] plays back in John Crawford Jr.’s head “every day, all day” since Aug. 5.

The mother of his son’s young children – boys, five months and nearly 2 – was screaming. “Mr. John. Mr. John. They shot him. They shot him,” Crawford recalls the cries from LeeCee Johnson.

She put her cell phone on speaker. “You could hear in the background he was gasping,” John Crawford Jr. told The Enquirer in a phone interview this week from his home in Jackson, Tenn. “I’m virtually listening to my kid taking his last breath.”

From Wikipedia:

John Crawford III was a 22-year-old African-American shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams on August 5, 2014, in a Walmart store near Dayton, Ohio, while holding an air rifle.

THE SHOOTING   Crawford picked up the un-packaged BB/pellet air rifle inside the store’s sporting goods section and was then seen walking through the store with it by a fellow customer, Ronald Ritchie, who called 911. According to Ritchie at the time, Crawford was pointing the gun at people and at children walking by. Ritchie has since recanted, stating “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody”.

Two officers of the Beavercreek Police arrived at the Walmart shortly after their dispatcher informed them of a “subject with a gun” in the pet supplies area of the store. According to the officers, Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to drop the toy gun and lie on the ground, and eventually began to move as if trying to escape. [Mistakenly] believing the toy air-rifle was a real firearm, one of the officers fired two shots into Crawford’s center mass. He died of his injuries shortly afterwards. The shooting was captured by the store’s security video camera. Crawford [is shown] talking on his cell-phone with the mother of his two [young] children, and holding the BB/pellet air rifle in his left hand, when he was killed. According to others who viewed video footage of the event, the officers fired immediately without giving any verbal commands and without giving Crawford any time to drop the toy– even if he had heard them.

A second person, Angela Williams, died after suffering a heart attack while fleeing from the shooting. Her death was ruled a homicide.

AFTERMATH   The Guardian revealed in December that immediately after the shooting, police aggressively questioned Crawford’s girlfriend, Tasha Thomas, threatening her with jail time. The interrogation caused her to sob uncontrollably, with hostile questions suggesting she was drunk or on drugs when she stated that Crawford did not enter the store with a gun. She was not yet aware of Crawford’s death at the time of the interrogation.

Following the shooting, a grand jury decided not to indict any of the officers involved. The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation. Meanwhile, the officer who shot Crawford remains on desk duty.

Crawford’s mother believes that the surveillance tape shows the police lied in their account of events,[and has spoken out against the killing Crawford family at press conference, Dayton Daily News fotoat a “Justice for All” march. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart and the Beavercreek police department.

Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece has proposed a “John Crawford’s Law”, which would change the way toy guns look to prevent similar tragedies.

MEDIA REACTION   The incident received national and international coverage, in part due to the time of its occurrence; the recent police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent unrest there had attracted public attention, as did the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ohio is an “open carry” state, in which the open carrying of firearms is legal with or without a license, which prompted discussion of gun rights and race. (Michael Wright, the Crawford family attorney, said that [since] Ohio is an “open carry” state, and that even if the pellet gun Crawford III was holding had been a real firearm, it would have been within Crawford III’s right to carry a rifle in the Walmart without a permit as long as it was in view.  [http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/grand-jury-probes-police-shooting-black-man-ohio-walmart-n208821]

I noticed right after hearing about this shooting that the photograph most often used for John Crawford III had been clipped out of the picture at the top of this page, showing him holding his newborn son at the hospital. I see the clipped photo as an image meant to convey a marijuana-stoned man who might have been smart-alecky enough not to follow a police order to drop a weapon– the storyline being circulated to excuse the officers for killing a non-shooting, non-threatening, perfectly legal carrier of a toy ‘version’ of a rifle WalMart did, in fact, also sell.

That clipped image– a display without permission of a black person: JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III n-JOE-CRAWFORD-III-large

When I am at our Xenia, Ohio vacation home– a modest base from which to take action to dismantle systemic racism– I shop at a WalMart a few miles from adjoining Beavercreek. I was there the day the grand jury, which convened in the county seat of Xenia, declined to indict the officer who killed John Crawford. That day, with Black neighbors, we were making some modest lawn improvements to save a tree and create a ‘settin’ space’ to enjoy like an open front porch.

Without saying so, we were all listening for the courthouse news as we worked, picnicked, and got acquainted. We were seen by passing neighbors, a few of the Black neighbors stopping to visit with us (and white neighbors not.) I got the grand jury news first on my ‘better’ (Privileged) cellphone, so had the strange role of breaking the sad and bad news to my new friends. It became increasingly clear that they had not expected this ‘business as usual’ news to matter to me at all, much less to discover that their new friend had shared with them the outrage that an indictment would never have been likely.

A complicated relationship was born that day. Thus my work against racism in Xenia began, before I was ‘ready’.

Now the time has come to memorialize all this somehow in music, with one tiny sign and a voice in the midst of the flu. I still don’t feel ‘ready,’ but by tomorrow night I hope to be well enough to sing– and ready to sing the right songs to reach more members of our mostly-white congregation. So the next step for today is to listen my way through our new justice-oriented songbook for the melodies and words John Henry Crawford’s loss to the human race deserves. With God’s help.

~Susan

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