Family of man shot at Walmart wants answers, surveillance video

During a Monday press conference family members of John Crawford III demanded answers to questions about what led to his death.

Beavercreek police officers Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow responded last Tuesday to a 911 call about a man waving a gun inside the Walmart at 3360 Pentagon Blvd. Police say Crawford, confronted inside the store, did not respond to officers’ demands that he drop the weapon. Crawford was shot in the torso and died. He was carrying an air rifle/pellet gun that he had picked off a shelf from inside the store.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that once we receive everything in its entirety, the evidence, i.e. everything else that’s out there, that he will be vindicated,” John Crawford Jr. said during a press conference at the Dayton offices of attorney Michael Wright. “My son was not a monster.”

Walmart spokesman Brian Nick said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has “everything they’ve asked for” and that, “In terms of giving it or allowing access to anyone else at this time, it wouldn’t be appropriate because it’s an ongoing criminal investigation.” The Bureau, an arm of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, is conducting an investigation into the shooting.

Nick said the Beavercreek Walmart did have at least one asset protection associate working the night of the shooting, but he would not say what action, if any, the asset protection associate(s) took that night.

Spokeswoman Jill Del Greco of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said, “The video is not public record from our office because it is considered Confidential Law Enforcement Investigatory Records/Investigatory Work Product.”

Ohio law generally requires law enforcement agencies to release copies of records once investigations are complete.

Flanked by several members of Crawford’s family and Derrick Foward of Dayton’s chapter of the NAACP, Wright said it was his understanding that Williams was the officer whose shot hit Crawford. The AG’s office would not comment on that assertion. Wright also asked the U.S. attorney’s office to monitor the investigation.

“We need to understand the communication between the Beavercreek police department and Walmart security,” Wright said. “We need to understand why, if this BB gun was indistinguishable by the Beavercreek police department, why wasn’t it locked in the case with the other firearms?

“Why did John Crawford, a Walmart customer, get shot and killed carrying a BB gun in a store that sells BB guns? All the family demands is answers.”

The Montgomery County Coroner’s office has listed Crawford’s manner of death as homicide, or death caused by another person.

Wright said he doesn’t know if race played any part in the shooting.

“This is not a race issue,” Wright said. “This is a public safety issue. This could have been any one of your children in Walmart holding a BB gun that was mistaken for a real gun and got shot.”

Foward said he appreciated that Beavercreek police Chief Dennis Evers called in the Attorney’s General’s Office to do an independent, third-party investigation.

“We do not want the community, at this point in time, to be in a roar about anything until all the facts come out,” Foward said. “There has not been an uproar inside the community, but, however, people are on edge. So don’t think that people are not on edge with another African American losing their life at the hands of a police officer.”

John Crawford Jr. said his son was an only child, a high school graduate and an active father of two sons. Crawford’s father described him as a loving son and grandson and a “typical 22-year-old.” Wright said Crawford only had minor scrapes with the law and that he “was not a felon.”

Darkow’s personnel file shows, released Monday by Beavercreek police, showed that he met or exceeded all criteria in his latest review and has had letters of recognition with no major disciplinary action against him.

Williams’ personnel file included several letters of recognition, including one for his actions during a 2010 bank robbery investigation. Williams, a nine-year veteran, was put on administrative leave after he was involved in the city’s first fatal police-involved shooting on June 27, 2010. A Greene County grand jury determined Williams acted correctly and in self-defense in that incident. Williams also had a letter of discipline for conduct unbecoming of an officer from September, 2011. In his most recent job performance review, the officer met or exceeded all of the categories listed.

Beavercreek officials have not provided copies of the officers’ written narratives on the incident report, saying the statements were being reviewed by BCI before they would be released.

Angela Williams, 37, of Fairborn, also died during the Tuesday incident after suffering a medical condition as she tried to leave Walmart with her daughter. Family and friends gathered for a viewing Monday at the Belton-Stroup Funeral Home in Fairborn for her visitation, including members of the Forgotten Breed Motorcycle Club. She was scheduled to have married a club member last weekend, according to posts by family members on social media.

Some social media websites have advoca`ted for a moment of silence Thursday to spotlight three recent police-involved deaths: Crawford; Michael Brown, who was killed Saturday by St. Louis County Police in Missouri; and Eric Garner, the man who died recently after police put him in a choke-hold in New York.

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