Students occupy the Beavercreek Police Station on behalf of John Crawford

Dateline: Beavercreek, Ohio, 8:51pm October 6, 2014

At least 15 activists with the Ohio Student Association (OSA) are currently occupying the Beavercreek, Ohio police headquarters as of Monday, October 6, 2014. Their demand: Justice for John Crawford. In August, Crawford, a 22-year-old African-American man, was shot without warning in a local Walmart while holding an air rifle, ironically in a state that allows the open carry of A-Ks and other military assault weapons.

James Hayes, organizer with the OSA told the Free Press that, “We expect justice and we will push for justice on behalf of John Crawford.”

Hayes said the Student Association has posed three questions to Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers:

1)      What is the police force going to do about the officer who shot Crawford, Officer Sean Williams, who has killed two people in the past few years?

2)      What is the police force going to do about the 911 caller Ronald Ritchie, who lied to the police, which led to the death of Crawford?

3)      What are the Beavercreek Police going to do about their training and protocol regarding deadly force?

“We want to know: Are they going to assure that this isn’t going to happen again?” stated Hayes.

He noted “We’re here and we’re not leaving. We’re going to let them know we’re here and we’re not going away – that this sort of police activity is not going to stand – and we’re not going to let this case go.”

Hayes said that the Chief Evers met with the OSA students briefly and told them “Make yourself at home.” The Police Chief plans on meeting with them on Wednesday, and the student groups plans to occupy the police station until that happens. The supplies of food and bedding they brought into the police station indicate they are serious about the occupation.

Darsheel, another OSA organizer and resident of Beavercreek, Ohio, was scouting out possible places to sleep in the police station overnight. She thought perhaps some padded chairs near the intake officer would be more comfortable than the floor near the door.

Darsheel said she’s there because the 911 caller “blatantly lied” and nothing was done about it. The caller had said that Crawford was “pointing the gun at children.” She said that she and other students had to demonstrate to get the store's videotape released showing Officer Williams shooting Crawford without warning and they held demonstrations hoping for an indictment that never came.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine had attempted to defuse tensions and circumvent protests addressing the Beavercreek shooting. His selection of special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier to present evidence to a grand jury was a curious move, however. Despite the axiom that any prosecutor can get anyone indicted, Piepmeier failed to get any charges brought against Officer Williams.

Piepmeier has a long history with high profile controversy. He was the Assistant County Prosecutor who gained an indictment against Ken Roach, the Cincinnati police officer who shot 16-year-old Timothy Thomas in the back in 2001 while the unarmed teen was fleeing from a warrant for an unpaid seat belt violation. A jury later failed to convict Roach on charges of negligent homicide. It is not clear why Piepmier did not choose to prosecute Roach for murder.

Piepmeier's questionable past goes back further. Piepmeier is touted as being the tough “law and order” prosecutor who secured a heap of indictments, convictions and death sentences against key inmates as a result of the Lucasville prison uprising. The continuing appeals in those cases have revealed a pattern that appears as systematic prosecutorial misconduct.

“Crawford’s death is due to a lack of accountability in the justice system. It’s like the law is saying, ‘it’s OK,’" another OSA organizer, Aramis, said, "Crawford was essentially killed for picking up a toy.” Aramis and other students brought loaded toy guns with them to their occupation of the Beavercreek police station.