On July 5th, a Pensacola, Florida police officer—the department won’t release the officer’s name—thought he smelled weed coming from a car. In some parts of Florida, where possessing up to 20 grams of cannabis is decriminalized, that officer might have just continued on his way. But this Pensacola cop made a traffic stop. The man behind the wheel was Tymar Crawford, a father of four. That traffic stop ended up costing Crawford his life. Police shot Crawford five times in front of his family, killing him.
At the time, Crawford’s shooting sparked protests and marches. Local residents gathered outside the Pensacola Police Department demanding justice for Crawford and the firing of the officer that killed him. Now, a layer representing Crawford’s family is fighting for the release of the dashboard and body camera footage of the killing. But Pensacola police are fighting to keep the video out of the public eye.
Family of Man Killed After Police Smelled Weed Demand Video of the Shooting
Pensacola police say they shot Tymar Crawford to death because he took an officer’s gun during a scuffle. That’s all it would take for the justice system to justify Crawford’s killing. But the Pensacola Police Department won’t release any dashboard or body camera footage from the fatal July 5th incident. Footage that would support their version of events.
But so far, police haven’t offered any evidence to support any part of their version of what happened. They just allege they smelled weed coming from Crawford’s car, that Crawford “fled at low-speed” then struggled with the cops trying arrest him outside of his family’s home. During that struggle, the police allege that Crawford tried to disarm one of the officers by grabbing his gun. That’s when officers shot him five times.
The gunshots and the aftermath were all caught on cell phone videos taken by witnesses. But cars and other objects blocked the bystanders’ view from the alleged “scuffle” that lead to Crawford’s killing. Those same witnesses, five of them, in fact, have challenged the officers’ version of events. They say police shot Crawford for no reason.
Joe Zarzaur, the attorney representing Crawford’s family, is demanding Pensacola police release the police footage of the incident. Zarzaur says the videos are part of officers’ routine duties and should be part of the public record. But the department says the videos are part of an ongoing investigation and are classified.
Pot Politics in Pensacola
Last November, Pensacola held a mayoral election. At least a couple candidates spoke openly about local changes to marijuana laws, but only one made decriminalization part of his platform. Drew Buchanan, a Pensacola businessman, proposed making Pensacola follow the more than a dozen other Florida municipalities that had decriminalized simple possession. On the campaign trail, Buchanan’s proposal “shocked” then-Comissioner Grover Robinson, who ultimately won the bid for mayor.
Another 2018 candidate for mayor also issued a prophetic response to Buchanan’s decriminalization proposal. While saying that it wasn’t “a campaign fight of mine,” candidate Lawrence Powell admitted that “granted, it does affect people.”
“If you get pulled over and in possession of, depending on how much and what your historical criminal record may look like, it can be a game changer — a life changer,” Powell said.
In Tymar Crawford’s case, it was a life ender.