The man who called 911 from an Ohio Walmart in 2014 after seeing a Black customer holding a BB gun could face charges for making a false alarm and lying to police. Ronald Ritchie told cops that a man, who was identified as John Crawford III, was waving around, and pointing, his gun at people within the store, when in fact he was just a customer looking at merchandise that was for sale in that very store. As a result of Ritchie's fabrication, Crawford was shot dead in the Walmart.
Ohio Judge Beth Root has ruled that there is probable cause to charge Ritchie over the call. It is now up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not Ritchie will face charges.
Judge Root made the ruling after reviewing affidavits from Greene County residents, as well as a video showing surveillance footage of Crawford III in the Walmart synced to the audio of Richie's 911 call.
Crawford was later shot by police officer Sean Williams. Police said that they believed Crawford was holding a real rifle, and that he didn't respond to police commands to put down the gun. It was later discovered that the gun was nothing more than a BB/pellet gun.
In addition to Crawford's death, another individual in Walmart at the time died from a heart attack that was induced by the event.
After the shooting, Ritchie spoke to Dayton Daily News to defend his actions. "He was just waving it at children, people, items. I couldn't hear anything that he was saying," he said. "When people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at people and everything."
Root wrote in her report that the video "does depict Mr. Crawford swinging or waving an item in a casual manner while looking at a shelf at the time of the call. The item appears to be a rifle." Root continued, "At one point the caller advises that at the time it appears that Mr. Crawford is trying to load the rifle." Adding, "The court does note that at the time that Ronald Ritchie is relaying to dispatch that Mr. Crawford is pointing the gun at two children, the video does not depict this event."
If Ritchie is charged, he could face six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
(Photo: Courtesy of Crawford family)