I’ll say from the start that maybe, over the years, I’ve watched too much Law & Order. As such, I’m skewed towards the occurrence of a positive outcome, if not a happy ending. It’s for that reason that I think Ronald Ritchie should be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter, sooner rather than later.
The death toll at the Ohio Walmart includes more than just John Crawford III, the 22 year-old African American man killed in the melee. There’s also Angela Williams, 37 year-old mother of two mentioned by Ritchie in his 911 call, who died at the scene from a heart attack brought on by the excitement of the incident. Two bodies, two people who would still be alive today if not for the irresponsible actions of one man; it’s a fact that Ohio prosecutors dare not overlook.
Beavercreek has an unique opportunity not afforded the officials of Ferguson. There, prosecutors have a chance to mend fences by dealing with the subsequent loss of life caused by the big-mouthed shopper. They have statutes in place and the shooting-the reasons behind it and exactly what happened-are far more clear cut than what occurred in August with Michael Brown.
Unlike their Ferguson law-enforcement counterparts, this shooting was prompted by the actions of another citizen; actions that they have a record of. As such, they have the ability to quickly bring charges. Doing so would send a message to all American citizens, black and white and it would be self-serving only if they choose not to do so.
Statute number of Ohio’s Laws and Rules 2903.01, Aggravated Murder, states that no person shall purposely and with prior caution and design, cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy.
I’m no lawyer but the word purposely would have its issues in a court of law, I think. There’s rarely a clear cut arrow pointing at motive or intent and you’d have to show both for a conviction of aggravated murder. Likewise, there doesn’t appear to be any influence of a sudden passion to make it Voluntary Manslaughter, 2903.03(A).
On the other hand, 2903.04, Involuntary Manslaughter speaks to the offender causing the death of another as a proximate result of the offender’s committing or attempting to commit a misdemeanor of any degree, a regulatory offense, or a minor misdemeanor. And Making False Alarms, 2917.32 (A) (2) (3) is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Watching the video, I’m still at a loss for words at the quickness with which this young man lost his life; the seemingly callous way the 911 call went down without any regard for human safety. You’ll see there’s no malice involved in anything he’s doing; just a person out shopping on a sunny afternoon. Even knowing how tenuous life in the hood is for a young black man, the video nevertheless chills me even weeks later.
Moving forward and as much as this incident has further captured the attention of the black community, I can’t help but wonder just how much it’s done so. It’s only when it’s done so to the extent that all young black men recognize the degree in which they’re scrutinized by their white peers, can I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s only then that some of this self-destructive behavior will cease. It’s only then that I know they’ll think before they act; and continue to think even while they’re doing whatever it is they’re doing.
I also want America’s law enforcement to do a lot of thinking as well. I want them to recognize a cold hard truth: that many in America would readily do harm to black people, not only young black men, if given the opportunity and a little bit of backbone. And with the social climate being what it is, these same individuals will likely set the stage that allows the police to do their dirty work for them.
I want the police to discern who the Ronald Ritchie’s of America are and know them for what they are; cowards, unwilling to communicate and too afraid to build a bridge of togetherness. At the very least, I want them to know that some are overzealous, mistaken individuals who have no idea the damage such erroneous and false exclamations cause. If we all can do that then we can turn this tide of violence that seems to have us by the throat.