CINCINNATI (AP) — The president of Ohio's legislative black caucus wants the state attorney general to release surveillance video of the fatal police shooting of a young black man in a suburban Dayton Wal-Mart store.
State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, said on her website that she has written to Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine expressing deep concern that information isn't being released in a way that inspires confidence, especially in the African-American community. In stressing the need to make information public, she referenced the violent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after the recent fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by police and the riots that erupted in Cincinnati in 2001 after an officer shot and killed a young black man.
"These events must be treated with utmost care, with transparency and fairness to the victims," Reece said. She said that as vice mayor of Cincinnati, she dealt with the aftermath of the 2001 police shooting and that Cincinnati now has a model for better police-community relations.
"Transparency and early release of information is the only way to keep confidence in the process," Reece wrote. "As long as our local, city and state officials use outdated strategies of dealing with people and the common methods of delay, there will be no confidence that justice is being served."
A DeWine spokesman said Monday the attorney general's office is planning a response to Reece's letter.
"While a response has not yet been sent, I can confirm no change has been made in the decision to not release video at this time," spokesman Dan Tierney said.
An attorney representing the family of John Crawford III says Wal-Mart surveillance video of the shooting shows it was unjustified. Police responded Aug. 5 to a call about a man with a gun in the store; they said Crawford refused orders to put down an air rifle.
A special grand jury will meet Sept. 22 to consider charges in the case. DeWine has said releasing the surveillance video could raise issues of a tainted jury pool if the case results in a trial.
"I think that it is playing with dynamite, frankly, to release that tape at this point," DeWine recently told the Dayton Daily News. "And I think the dynamite simply is that it blows up and you can't get a fair trial. That's what we worry about."
Crawford's parents want a federal investigation and have met with U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart. Family attorney Michael Wright said Stewart assured them Thursday that the Justice Department is monitoring and assisting Ohio's investigation and will independently determine the merits of any potential federal prosecution.
Hundreds of people turned out for separate weekend rallies outside the Beavercreek Wal-Mart store. On Sunday, people rallied to show support for Beavercreek police. On Saturday, demonstrators urged police to release the tape. Organizers of the Saturday rally said the Rev. Al Sharpton plans to come to the area in a few weeks to speak about the shooting.