Grand jury: No charges for Wal-Mart 911 caller

Posted at 2:39 PM, Apr 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-18 14:52:42-04

FAIRBORN, Ohio — The 911 caller in the 2014 fatal, officer-involved shooting of a man carrying a pellet gun through a Wal-Mart will not face charges for inducing panic, prosecutors said Monday.

A Greene County grand jury decided Ronald Ritchie, the man who first reported to police that John Crawford, III was walking through the Beavercreek storefront with a firearm, would not face a making false alarms charge, according to Special Prosecuting Attorney Mark Piepmeier.

Police shot and killed Crawford in August 2014 after responding to a call from Ritchie that Crawford was pointing a gun -- later determined to be an air rifle -- at people, and specifically at two children.

Fairborn Municipal Court Judge Beth Root found there was probable cause to prosecute Ritchie for making false reports, WCPO media partner, the Journal-News, reported. Root also ruled that there was not probable cause to prosecute Ritchie for inciting violence, inducing panic, involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.

Crawford, of Fairfield, had picked the air rifle off a shelf in the store. Officers who responded to the call said they shot him because he ignored commands to drop the rifle when he turned toward them "in an aggressive manner," according to one of the officer's statements.

The grand jury determined no charges were warranted against Ritchie because he did not know at the time the information he was reporting was false.