BEAVERCREEK, Ohio — An estimated 150 to 200 people gathered at the Beavercreek Walmart parking lot on Sunday in support of the city police department following an officer-involved shooting earlier this month.
Beavercreek Police Department supporters said they were sympathetic toward law enforcement officers who routinely risk their lives and personal safety for the community.
Sunday’s rally marked the most recent organized event related to the shooting death of 22-year-old John Crawford III, of Fairfield, who was killed by Beavercreek officers on Aug. 5 while holding a Crosman MK-177 air rifle inside Walmart. Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers has said officers fired their weapons after Crawford failed to follow commands to drop a weapon.
Mike Crain, a police chaplain and a Huber Heights resident, said the gathering was not anti-Crawford family. He said the group was pro-police, but still respected the victims.
“I want the Beavercreek Police Department to see that they have support,” Crain said. “I would like community to see that it’s OK to support your police department, but I would also like for them to maybe see that police officers are human. They have emotions.”
Crain and others at the rally said they supported the city police department as well as the officers who fired their weapons at the victim inside the Walmart.
“So even if something comes out that something was done incorrectly or wrong, I’m still going to support them because that’s who I am,” Crain said.
A special prosecutor from Hamilton County will begin presenting the case to the grand jury on Sept. 22. to determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Beavercreek Police Officer Sean Williams or Sgt. David Darkow.
Beavercreek officials have not said which officer fired the fatal shot. Darkow has returned to work while Williams remains on administrative leave, the city confirmed.
Crain said no other rallies have been scheduled, but he is working on requests for armbands and T-shirts showing support for the law enforcement department.
Sandy Kucinsky, a Beavercreek resident, also said she supported the officers who fired their weapons and the department.
“They put their lives on the line everyday for us and they never know what they’re walking into,” she said. “They get that call and they don’t know what to expect.”
Susan White, a Washington Twp. resident, said the issue hit close to home with her. Her son and husband are police officers, she said.
White said she supported the police department and the officer who fired his weapon because the officer should have due process.
“The stress that ensues, after they do a shooting, is incredible on the officer as well as the families and friends. None of them go to work and want this to happen,” she said.
More than midway through the event, the rally was disrupted when an unidentified man wearing a green mask circled the crowd with a video camera and asked: “Do you support killers?”
Five other demonstrators stood toward the back of the parking lot, several feet from those supporting Beavercreek police, holding signs that read “Badges Don’t Grant Rights” and “Toy Guns Don’t Kill People. Cops Do.”
They declined to be interviewed saying they had concerns about “work.”
Members of the crowd asked the unidentified man to remove his mask. When he refused, they called him a coward.
Crain said he expected the demonstrators.
“We just take it as it comes,” he said. “We reinforced what we told everybody. Don’t worry about the detractors. Come in and focus on your mission that is showing support for Beavercreek Police.”
On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in the same parking lot to call for the release of the Walmart video surveillance footage that shows officers shooting Crawford inside the store.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has allowed Crawford’s family to view to the surveillance video, but has not released it to the public stating it be the equivalent of “playing with dynamite” if the video were released before it was seen by a grand jury.
©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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