The family of John Crawford, III filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Dayton, Ohio. The claim was filed against the city of Beavercreek, its police chief, Dennis Evers, Officer Sean Williams, Sgt. David Darkow and the Walmart Corporation.
Back in August, Crawford was shot and killed by Beavercreek police in a Walmart after a 911 caller claimed a man was pointing a loaded rifle at store customers. It was later revealed that the rifle was actually an unloaded store BB gun that had been previously removed of its packaging and that the claims made by the caller were false.
The circumstances were not much different than the incident taking place three months later when another Ohio cop shot a 12-year-old boy carrying an Airsoft gun. Both males were killed within seconds of police arriving. It helped spark the current anti-police brutality protests that went into full swing after the non-indictments in Ferguson and Staten Island.
Adding insult to injury (or in this case death) comes the recently released police interrogation footage with Crawford’s girlfriend, Tasha Thomas. During the video, Beavercreek Police Detective Rodney Curd interrogates Thomas in the cruelest of manners, attempting to implicate some sort of criminal behavior from her and Crawford even though neither had given the police any indication that a crime had been committed. It really highlights the importance of insisting on having a lawyer present, if you even decide to talk to cops.
Despite her obvious distress and lack of evidence, Curd continued to barrage Thomas and insinuate some pretty disturbing things that he must have known weren’t true. Asking if Crawford had ever threatened to “Shoot that bitch” in reference to the mother of his children LeeCee Johnson. Despite her pleas, Curd gave no signs of sympathy for the grieving Thomas, while attempting to criminalize her completely legal behavior.
That video along with the surveillance video of the shooting are posted below.
Recently, Darkow and Williams, the two officers involved in the shooting, were found by a Greene County Grand Jury to be free of any wrongdoing. Crawford family lawyers issued a statement saying that Walmart should be held responsible due to the fact the rifle was left unpackaged for several days in the Beavercreek store.
“The thing to do in a country this great,” said Attorney Shean Williams, “is to make sure we hold everybody accountable for their actions, police or corporate giants like Walmart. We owe it to each other to treat each other with respect and the dignity we all deserve.”
As a response, the city of Beavercreek sent 2 NEWS in Dayton the following statement: “We acknowledge the family’s right to bring this action and are confident the trial will be fair and impartial. We believe the evidence will prove the officer’s actions were legally justified. “
Walmart issued their own response in regards to the situation, stating: “Our condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones. Out of respect for everyone involved, we believe it’s not appropriate to discuss the specifics of this matter, but we can say that our associates acted properly. We take the safety and the security of our stores very seriously so that Walmart remains a safe shopping experience for our customers.”
The current lawsuit claims that the Beavercreek Police Department and Walmart are liable, as they were negligible in this incident. The lawsuit claims that Walmart personnel were well aware of Crawford’s presence with the gun long before police arrived and that employees had a “duty to ensure Crawford and customers were safe.” It is asking for $75,000 in damages to go towards the two children Crawford left behind.
According to the lawsuit:
18. On August 5, 2014, at approximately 8:21 p.m., Defendants Williams and
Darkow responded to a 911 caller who claimed that a black man at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart
was pointing a gun at customers. Upon their arrival at that location at 8:24 p.m., the officers
entered the Beavercreek Wal-Mart and located the individual identified by the 911 caller, later
identified as John H. Crawford, III.
19. Mr. Crawford was a customer and business invitee at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart,
and he was not doing anything dangerous or illegal while shopping there. In fact, Mr. Crawford
was at the store with his friend to buy ingredients to make S’mores at a family cookout and was
at the Wal-Mart store for those reasons for which the store is open to the public.
20. While present at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart, John H. Crawford, III had picked up
an unloaded MK-177 BB/Pellet Rifle [hereinafter, the “Pellet Rifle”] that was unboxed and lying
on one of the store’s shelves.
21. Mr. Crawford never used, loaded, or pointed the Pellet Rifle at anyone, was doing
nothing improper or illegal, and never caused any harm or acted in a manner that would cause
any reasonable person to believe that he may cause harm.
22. At or about 8:24 P.M., Defendants Williams and Darkow entered the Beavercreek
Wal-Mart, and they located John H. Crawford III at or about 8:27 P.M.
23. When Defendants Williams and Darkow located John H. Crawford, III, he was
talking on a cell phone held in his right hand, with no other customers in his vicinity, and with
Case: 3:14-cv-00454-WHR Doc #: 1 Filed: 12/16/14 Page: 7 of 26 PAGEID #: 7
his left side and back visible to the two police officers. Mr. Crawford was holding the Pellet
Rifle in his left hand pointed down at the floor.
24. Defendant Williams shot and killed Mr. Crawford approximately one second after
Defendant Williams or Darkow first made contact with him.
Despite the non-indictment from the grand jury, the United States Department of Justice said it will begin its own investigation.
“This is just the beginning as far as I’m concerned,” said John Crawford, Jr. the victim’s father. “I’m still pursuing justice, because to me that is justice, you have to be held accountable.”
The family is seeking a restitution of at least $75,000, and is still hopeful that the Department of Justice gets involved and indicts the officers.