After a grand jury decided not to press charges against police officers involved in the shooting of black Walmart shopper John Crawford, the US Department of Justice announced it will carry out its own independent investigation into whether the shooting violated Crawford's civil rights.
Crawford, a 22-year-old black man, was shopping at a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio, on August 5 when Beavercreek Police officers shot and killed him. Crawford had been walking around the store with a pellet gun designed to look like an assault rifle, which he had picked up from the store's sporting goods section. When Ronald Ritchie saw Crawford, he called 911 and claimed that Crawford was pointing the toy gun at people. Police said that, when they responded, they believed Crawford was holding a real firearm and reacted quickly to protect the public. But video footage shows Crawford dropped the toy gun before he was killed by police.
A grand jury on Wednesday seemingly sided with the police, deciding to file no charges against the officers involved in the shooting.
The Justice Department's decision to step in with its own investigation continues the Obama administration's scrutiny of local police departments in light of rising racial tensions across the country. Under US Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department has initiated more than twice as many civil rights investigations on police departments than his predecessors did in a similar time period.
After the police shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown, the Justice Department also announced its own civil rights investigation into the case. That investigation, which involves at least 40 FBI agents, is currently underway, even as grand jury deliberations continue into whether Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson should face charges for shooting and killing Brown.