- Mark Gokavi Staff Writer
Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams — who shot and killed John Crawford III at a Walmart nearly three years ago — has returned to full duty.
Williams had been on administrative desk duty from when he returned to work several months after the Aug. 5, 2014 incident, per a decision by Beavercreek police Chief Dennis Evers.
Williams was cleared by a Greene County special grand jury in September 2014. The U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) announced July 11, 2017 that it wouldn’t seek federal charges.
Williams and Sgt. David Darkow are scheduled to be deposed Sept. 14 and 15 in the federal civil lawsuit brought by Crawford’s parents against Beavercreek and Walmart.
Beavercreek law director Stephen McHugh confirmed Tuesday that Williams “has been returned to full duty.” McHugh didn’t say when Williams returned, only adding, “He was to return to regular duty immediately following the DOJ release of their findings.”
Neither Evers nor Beavercreek police Capt. Scott Molnar returned messages seeking comment.
“I think the public should be very concerned,” Crawford family attorney Michael Wright said of Williams’ return.
Williams and Darkow entered Walmart after a 911 caller reported seeing a man with a gun in the store. Williams, who was the officer in Beavercreek’s only other police-involved fatal shooting, twice shot Crawford, a Fairfield resident who was talking on a cell phone while holding a BB/pellet gun he found unboxed on a store shelf.
Crawford family attorneys alleged, after viewing surveillance video of the incident, that Crawford had a third of a second to respond to officers’ commands to drop the item. Crawford, 22, died from two gunshot wounds.
Federal officials announced a week ago that their investigation “revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws.”
The DOJ statement said that to charge Williams, it would have to find that he willfully deprived Crawford of a constitutional right.
“This is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law,” the statement read. “Mistake, misperception, negligence, necessity, or poor judgment are not sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation.”
The federal probe took place under two U.S. presidents, three U.S. Attorneys General and two U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Ohio.
The federal civil lawsuit will move forward with Williams and Darkow each scheduled for a day of deposition next month, but Wright said that could be extended.
Various deadlines for expert witnesses, reports and discovery were pushed back, but the case’s trial date remains Feb. 5, 2018 — exactly 3½ years after the shooting.
Wright said Crawford’s mother and father are disappointed with the DOJ decision, but glad that the civil case will go forward.
Walmart shopper Angela Williams, 37, who worked at a Springfield nursing home, died of a heart condition after the officer fired his weapon and she tried to flee the store.