COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A year after a 22-year-old black man was killed by a white police officer while carrying an air rifle in an Ohio Wal-Mart, federal officials' review of the case remains unfinished as his relatives plan an anniversary vigil — and the region grapples with the aftermath of a different deadly police shooting.
John Crawford III was shot Aug. 5 in suburban Dayton after a 911 caller reported seeing someone at the store waving a gun. A local grand jury concluded the shooting was justified, but his family contends he was shot without a chance to respond to police.
The case and others that followed — including the deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown days later in Ferguson, Missouri, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in November — have fueled national dialogue about police use of force, especially by white officers against blacks. Attention again turned to southwest Ohio over the past few days as a now-fired University of Cincinnati policeman who shot a driver during a traffic stop pleaded not guilty to murder.
"It does not appear that anything has changed for the better in this past year — that we're still having a lot of police-involved shootings of young black men," said Michael Wright, an attorney for Crawford's family.
They want to see charges filed in Crawford's case and plan to voice that call as they mark the anniversary with a rally and prayer vigil Wednesday at Dayton's courthouse square.
The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office responsible for the Dayton area are reviewing what happened, said Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office. She said a "review of the facts and circumstances" is continuing but she couldn't provide a timeline for its completion.
Crawford's relatives have said they hoped the federal review would include analysis of whether race was a factor in the case. Crawford was black, and the two officers who confronted him are white.
The shooting was captured on surveillance video by cameras inside the Beavercreek store, but it didn't include sound.
Police said Crawford appeared to have a real weapon and was shot when he didn't respond to orders to drop it. Investigators later determined the Fairfield man was talking on a cellphone and holding an air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf.
Crawford's relatives and their attorneys have argued he was "shot on sight."
The family filed a federal lawsuit against Beavercreek police and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., alleging negligence and violation of Crawford's civil rights. The city and Wal-Mart have denied the allegations.
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(Photo: Jim Otte/The Dayton Daily News via AP)