A 911 caller who reported a man brandishing a gun in a Wal-Mart store might face charges over causing a false alarm.
Judge Beth Root of the Fairborn, Ohio, municipal court ruled this week there was sufficient evidence that could land Ronald Ritchie up to six months in jail and hit with a $1,000 fine for providing wrong information to the cops that led to John Crawford III’s shooting death in August 2014.
The judge delivered the verdict after reviewing the surveillance footage of Crawford’s shooting synced to the audio of the 911 call.
The 22-year-old African-American man was shot by the police in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Beavercreek. Police stated they thought Crawford had a real rifle and fatally shot him because he refused to obey repeated orders to put the gun down. The gun was revealed to be an air rifle he took from a shelf.
Ritchie, the only person to call 911 before shots were fired, defended himself by claiming: “He was just waving it at children, people, items, I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. When people did look at him, he was pointing the gun at people and everything.”
Yet, the judge wrote: “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.”
Crawford was told repeatedly by the police to drop the gun, but he refused to do so. Many say the fact that the police opened fire on the man before ascertaining whether he was an actual threat or not indicates gross negligence on the part of the police.
Attorney Michael Wright, who represents the Crawford family in a civil lawsuit against the police department and Wal-Mart, agrees with the judge on the fact Richie cannot be charged with inciting violence, manslaughter or reckless homicide.
“Based on the video we do know that he [Ritchie] was making assertions that were not correct.” The lawyer said Wednesday. “However, it wasn’t his fault that John Crawford is dead.”
Richie may face charges of making a false alarm.