Nearly two years after a fatal police shooting at Beavercreek’s Walmart, John Crawford III’s sons just know their father is “sleeping with the angels” in Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery.
At Beavercreek police headquarters, officer Sean Williams is still working behind a desk as an investigations secretary. In Columbus and/or Washington, D.C., a secretive U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the shooting remains “ongoing.”
In Dayton, a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Beavercreek is hung up because a federal judge is allowing Williams and Sgt. David Darkow not to be deposed because the DOJ probe isn’t complete.
The shooting in Beavercreek was one of the first in a series of such incidents across the nation. But while many of the others have reached a finality, the “perfect storm” of the Walmart incident hasn’t subsided.
“They’re holding up. But they are still grieving,” attorney Michael Wright said of Crawford’s parents. “There’s been absolutely no resolution to their situation. There’s been no criminal resolution. There’s been no civil resolution.”
John Crawford Jr. and Tressa Sherrod planned to be at a press conference today at Wright’s Dayton office along with their son’s two boys to mark the second anniversary of the Aug. 5, 2014 shooting. There also will be a rally at 3 p.m. Saturday atcourthouse square in downtown Dayton.
“Every time I’m in Ohio, I take them to see their father and we just tell them that he’s sleeping with the angels,” Crawford Jr. told this news organization during an exclusive interview. “The oldest one, John IV, we call him Quad, he’ll just say, ‘That’s my daddy. He’s sleeping with the angels.’ And we say yes.
“Every now and then we might get an episode when a nightmare would occur or something like that. But that’s few and far between now. When we first got (John IV and Jayden), the first half a year, it was a nightmare.”
Crawford Jr. said it’s “concerning” that the federal investigation is taking this long. He said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch told him more than a year ago that the DOJ would do a thorough job of investigating.
Outside of an April statement by acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Benjamin Glassman saying that the probe “has taken longer than some may have anticipated,” no other federal officials have commented on the 22-month-old investigation’s status.
“I want an indictment, a conviction, and I want it to be the right conviction,” Crawford Jr. said. “And I want that sentence to correspond with the conviction, with the crime.”
Williams shot Crawford, a 22-year-old Fairfield native, after a lone 911 caller said a black man was waving a rifle at people, including children.
Beavercreek police said Williams and Darkow told Crawford to drop the item — an air rifle he picked up from an unopened box in the store — and then Williams fired twice.
His family said Crawford — who was talking on his cell phone — had less than a second to react to any commands. A Greene County special grand jury led by special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier in September 2014 did not indict Williams.
Fairborn Municipal Court Judge Beth Root found probable cause that the 911 caller, Ronald T. Ritchie, could be prosecuted for making false alarms, a first-degree misdemeanor. Piepmeier, who was asked to review the probable cause finding, declined to bring charges.
Beavercreek police Chief Dennis Evers decided after the shooting that Williams should stay on administrative duty until the DOJ investigation was complete. Evers said earlier in July that he was “frustrated with the lack of closure.”
Walmart shopper Angela Williams, 37, collapsed in the store after the shooting. She was declared dead at nearby Soin Medical Center. Her family has not responded to this organization’s interview requests and no known lawsuit has been filed on her family’s behalf.
As for the civil lawsuit against Beavercreek and Walmart, Crawford Jr. said he knows the defense’s tactics.
“It’s all a game and I understand the game,” he said. “The bottom line is that they’re guilty. They know they’re guilty and they’re just trying to stall.”
But Crawford Jr. also said the civil suit should ultimately compensate his grandsons.
“There is no amount of money, first of all, that can compensate for a life,” he said. “His lineage should live well from henceforth to generations on out.”
Crawford Jr. was a parole officer and said his father was a U.S. Army soldier who served in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. He said the murder of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La. by former military members was the highest form of treason.
But he said it was driven by the thought that black males, including those who served their country, are being unlawfully killed by police officers time and time again without criminal convictions.
“I thought it was tragic. But was I surprised? Absolutely not. I’m not surprised at all. I told them two years ago that this was coming,” Crawford Jr. said. “I thought it was a travesty. I’m not anti cop. I’m just pro justice. I’m anti bad cop. If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do, if you’re unethical and immoral in your practices, yes, I’m anti that.”
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