XENIA — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Haller announced the name of the attorney who will present evidence to the grand jury that will consider the officer-involved shooting incident at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart Aug. 5.
The new information was announced at a Tuesday press conference in the Greene County Courthouse courtroom where the grand jury will convene next month. That grand jury will determine if any criminal charges will be returned because of the shooting.
Mark Piepmeier – chief trial counsel attorney in the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office – will lead the presentation of evidence to the grand jury that will begin Sept. 22. The grand jury was originally supposed to begin Sept. 3, but DeWine said Piepmeier would not be available to start the proceedings until the later date.
Stacey Degraffenreid, also with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, will assist Piepmeier in the investigation and presentation to the grand jury.
In the incident that will be presented to the grand jury, John Crawford III, 22, of Cincinnati, was shot by Beavercreek police officers after he allegedly waved an air rifle – later identified as a Crosman MK-177, a .177 caliber BB/pellet rifle – at store customers.
A release from the Beavercreek Police Department said that Crawford was shot after he failed to comply with the verbal commands of the officers. He was transported to Miami Valley Hospital where he died shortly after arrival.
Piepmeier, who will present the evidence from the incident, has worked in the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office since 1981 and has prosecuted more than 200 murder cases, with dozens of them being capital murder cases, DeWine said. Piepmeier is assigned to the Cincinnati Police Department to act as legal adviser for the investigation and prosecution of officer-involved shootings and excessive use-of-force cases. He also reviews all other Hamilton County cases involving the excessive use of force by police officers.
“Over the years, he has been involved in at least 100 use-of-force cases,” DeWine said. “He has taken many cases to the grand jury. In some cases, the grand jury has indicted the officer, and in some cases, it has not. I believe that Mark Piepmeier has the balanced judgment needed in this case.”
DeWine also provided an update on the progress of his office’s investigation into the shooting. He said investigators have now conducted approximately 70 interviews with individuals who might have knowledge of the case, have reviewed over 1,000 pages of documents and have culled through all 260,000 files of video footage from Wal-Mart.
In a statement released by email Tuesday, Piepmeier wrote that he had met with the investigating officers from BCI (the DeWine bureau investigating the incident) and had been brought up to speed on what they had done and what they still need to do.
“I will present everything relevant to the shooting to the Greene County grand jury along with the law regarding all possible criminal charges and any potential defenses to such charges,” he wrote.
Shortly after the conclusion of DeWine’s press conference, the family of John Crawford III, the 22-year-old Cincinnati man who was shot by Beavercreek police officers Aug. 5, held a press conference at the offices of Wright & Schulte, their legal representation.
In that press conference, Michael Wright, the family’s attorney, called for the complete Wal-Mart surveillance video to be released.
“Show everything,” he said. “We need to have all of the video released such that everyone will get a complete picture of what occurred.”
DeWine showed a portion of the Wal-Mart surveillance video to Crawford Jr. (Crawford III’s father) Aug. 20. DeWine said Tuesday that the video should not be out.
“I don’t think that there’s any prosecuting attorney in this state who would of her or of his own volition put out that video,” DeWine said. “It’s one of the chief pieces of evidence we have in this case, and to put that out I think would be irresponsible, and I think it would be something people would regret later on.”
Wright said that it appeared Crawford was standing facing the shelves and that he was shot initially through the back of his left elbow. Wright said the video they were shown showed Crawford “doing absolutely nothing menacing, not pointing the gun, doing none of the things that the 911 caller indicated.”
In a recording of the 911 call that brought officers to the scene, the caller described a man as waving a rifle around and pointing it at children at one point.
“My main concern is: What’s the delay?” Crawford Jr. said. “I understanding it’s a process. I’m not by any means new to the criminal justice umbrella. I understand it’s a process, but frankly I see stall tactics in play.”
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Greene County agencies and organizations. You can find him on Twitter at @XDGNatePilling or you can call him at 937-502-4498.