Opinion: Wall of Silence in the Walmart Shooting Investigation

Three weeks after a Police Shooting in the Beavercreek Walmart, the public is not closer to having answers about what transpired that evening.  The Beavecreek Police Department has retained Coolidge Law to represent them in all public interactions, and the taxpayers are almost certainly footing the bill.

In an effort to establish clarity and keep the public appraised, the Greene County Herald requested copies of the police reports, video and audio recordings and the Walmart security footage which potentially recorded the shooting.  Rather than receiving a direct response from the Beavercreek PD or another City employee, we were contacted by employees of the private law firm informing us that some data will be compiled.  No dates were provided and we still continue to be confused over the involvement of a private law firm in the process of reviewing and approving (or denying) public records requests, which are protected by Ohio law.

In what appears to be a wall of silence erected by the Beavercreek PD, the investigation of the incident was turned over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, a criminal investigation lab ran by the Ohio Attorney General’s office.  The only communication issues by the BCI was soon after the shooting, which included a supposed picture of an air-rifle similar to the one held by John Crawford III when he was shot.  Beavercreek Police representatives have since refused to answer any direct questions regarding the shooting or the evidence involved in the investigation, directing all questions to the BCI.  Meanwhile, the BCI is also refusing to provide any answers to the public.  We apparently have a police organization investigating another police organization, without any public insight into how the investigation is progressing, how the evidence is being processed or what exactly is taking place behind their closed doors.

Since the shooting, a local police-accountability organization called Dayton Cop Block has staged a small protest in front of the Walmart store where the shooting took place, in an effort to expose the lack of answers regarding the shooting.  Another group of Wright State students held a vigil at the same location to remember the two victims in the shooting, and are also planning to host a walk at the Beavercreek PD headquarters in order to demand the release of the security footage from Walmart.

A Facebook group titled “I support the Beavercreek Police Department” was created in what appears to be an effort to counter the growing protests and questions asked by the public.  It is unknown if the group was created by existing Beavercreek City employees or by independent residents, but the group appears to contain mostly current or former government employees who show support for the police officers involved in the shooting.

Other Facebook comments related to the incident are largely in opposition to protesters, and in support of police.  One Facebook commenter named James Eldridge said “I’m glad the piece of sh*t is dead. He had what’s coming to him.”

The unanswered questions only fuel the rift that has taken place in the community as a result of this shooting, and there seems to be no end in sight, as no answers are coming and more protests and potential counter-protests are on the horizon.

The Greene County Herald has notified the Beavercreek Police Department, the City of Beavercreek and the Ohio BCI that should the refusal to provide answers continue, a lawsuit will be filed to force them to abide by Ohio sunshine laws and keep the public appraised of such important items as the truth related to a deadly shooting involving the police.


Comments

As a point of clarification, as the owner of the “I support the Beavercreek Police Department”, it was started by someone not directly affiliated with the City of Beavercreek at all. I do have friends that work for the city and family members who work in the city. The almost 4000 members of the group comprise of not only "mostly current or former government employees", but family members and Public Safety personnel around the region and in places like Arkansas and even in Germany.

As far as the comments in the group, we try to regulate the comments and ensure that they are civil and not overly-offensive.

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