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Crawford attorney: Walmart, workers negligent

Defendants in civil lawsuit include Beavercreek police officers

Update @1:19 p.m.: Michael Wright, one of several attorneys for the Crawford family, opened the news conference by acknowledging the the families of other victims who were gunned down by police across the country.

He then announced that his law firm and the Crawford family are filing a civil lawsuit against Beavercreek Police Officers Sean Williams — who fatally shot Crawford — and his partner Sgt. David Darkow, Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers and the Walmart Corp.

“All we want is justice for John Crawford,” he said. “John Crawford broke no law. John Crawford threatened no one. John Crawford was shopping and talking on his cell phone. John Crawford did nothing wrong.”

They are asking for a minimum of $75,000, although that amount will increase as the lawsuit progresses, the attorneys said, noting that the money from the lawsuit will be used to take care of Crawford’s two children.

No amount of money will bring back Crawford, so that’s not what the lawsuit is about, the attorneys said. Instead, the purpose of the lawsuit is to “effectuate change not only in … Beavercreek and this county and this state. But in the nation. “We are all seeking changes in policy and procedure at the Beavercreek Police Department, period. This should not happen in this nation. Ohio is the heart of the nation and this is the place for change to begin.”

The family contends that Walmart is just as responsible for their son’s death as the police because the store was negligent. They allowed the bb gun to remain on the shelf unsecured and out of the package as it sat on the shelf for several days, the attorneys said. Also, a store clerk saw Crawford walking around the store with the bb gun and contacted a manager about it, the attorneys noted.

Had the Walmart staff taken steps to package the gun, perhaps Crawford would still be alive, the attorney said.

“Customers are not supposed to be shot on sight when they are shopping at Walmart,” an attorney said.

The family is also holding Walmart responsible because the staff knew that another shopper saw him walking around the store with the gun and alerted police, “and they had the duty to make sure that Crawford and the other customers are safe,” the attorney said.

Ronald Ritchie, the shopper who called 911, made a mistake by assuming the gun Crawford was carrying was real. However, the police officers should have assessed the situation when they arrived at the scene, the family and their attorneys said.

“You don’t get a pass because you have a side arm and a shield,” said Crawford’s father, John Crawford Jr.

Update @11 a.m. (Dec. 16): We have reporters at the federal building in Dayton waiting for the Crawford family news conference to start.

FIRST REPORT

The family of John Crawford III on Monday called a press conference for Tuesday to announce that they’re filing a lawsuit against multiple parties they say are responsible for his death. The announcement came as a group of protesters held a vigil in Xenia for Crawford and other black males who’ve been killed in recent years by police officers around the country.

Crawford’s family and their attorneys say they plan to sue Beavercreek Police Officers Sean Williams — who fatally shot Crawford — and his partner Sgt. David Darkow, Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers and the Wal-Mart Corp., according to a press release.

Crawford , 22, was shot and killed Aug. 5 by Williams inside the Beavercreek Walmart. Crawford was carrying a bb gun he picked up from a store shelf at the time he was shot. Angela Williams, who was shopping inside of the Walmart at the time of the shooting, also died that night. She suffered cardiac arrest as a consequence of heart disease.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered in front of the Greene County Courthouse in Xenia Monday evening for a weekly vigil for black men killed during confrontations with police — Crawford, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Protesters say they plan to hold a vigil every Monday until the officers involved in the shootings are charged with crimes.

Protesters held signs and wore shirts that read “racism kills” and “black lives matter.” Students and professors from Antioch College and Wilberforce and Central State universities were in attendance.

“We are trying to get John Crawford III’s name more into the conversation,” said Bomani Moyenda, who organized the vigil. “Because we’re not in a major urban area, it did not draw much attention.”

Moyenda says he plans to hold the vigil every Monday until police undergo training to prevent unnecessary officer-involved shootings.