“See Something, Say Something.” That’s the motto of the Department of Homeland Security. If you see suspicious activity or believe there is a danger to the general public you’re supposed to call police.
When Ronald Ritchie saw what he believed to be a man wielding a gun at an Ohio Walmart that’s exactly what he did. There’s no way Ritchie could have known the gun John Crawford was playing around with was a BB-gun.
Raw footage of the incident shows Crawford walking around the store with the BB-gun shortly before being shot by police. At the time, Ritchie, who had no idea the man was playing with a BB-gun, called law enforcement, like any concerned citizen would have:
The witness who phoned police, ex-marine Ronald Ritchie, reportedly told 9-1-1 he saw Crawford “walking around with a gun in the store,” and that he was “loading it right now,” and pointing it at customers and children.
He “was just waving it at children and people. Items…. I couldn’t hear anything that he was saying. I’m thinking that he is either going to rob the place or he’s there to shoot somebody else,” Ritchie said.
Now Ritchie, not the police officer who shot and killed Crawford, is facing charges of making a false alarm, which could land him in prison for six months:
Fairborn Municipal Court Judge Beth Root ruled that probable cause exists to prosecute the 911 caller in the John Crawford III police-involved fatal shooting after reviewing affidavits submitted by Greene County residents.
Root found probable cause that Ronald T. Ritchie, the lone person to call 911 from Beavercreek’s Walmart before shots were fired Aug. 5, 2014, could be prosecuted for making false alarms, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by maximums of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
There is uncertainty as to what legal steps may happen next, but Root wrote that the case should be referred to a prosecutor.
But even the attorney for the family of John Crawford can’t make any sense of it, arguing that Ritchie simply called the police and had nothing to do with the shooting:
Attorney Michael Wright, who represents the Crawford family in their civil suit against Beavercreek police and Walmart, said Wednesday evening that, “based on the video we do know that he was making assertions that were not correct. However, it wasn’t his fault that John Crawford is dead.”
Apparently, this is what happens when you say something in the hopes of keeping the public safe.