Nearly six years after a Beavercreek police officer shot and killed a customer in Walmart, the city has settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of John Crawford III.
The 22-year-old Crawford, a Fairfield resident, was shot to death Aug. 5, 2014, by Beavercreek police Officer Sean Williams after a 911 caller told dispatchers a black man was holding a rifle, appeared to be loading it and waving it near people. Crawford was holding a Crosman MK-177 BB/pellet rifle that he found unboxed on a store shelf.
The city and Crawford family have reached a $1.7 million settlement agreement.
Crawford family attorney Michael Wright confirmed the settlement to the Dayton Daily News.
“We made a strategic decision to resolve the case for the family,” he said. “That was a negotiated settlement, so we thought that that was appropriate based on the law and based on our potential of losing in the court of appeals.”
Wright said that the wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart continues.
“(The Crawford family) is glad that one part of this case was put behind them. But we're still fighting,” Wright said. “We still have a case against Walmart, so we're hopeful that we will get a successful verdict.”
The Walmart portion of the case is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 2.
The city of Beavercreek issued a statement that read:
“The Beavercreek police officers involved in the incident responded to the scene in accordance with their training, and their response followed accepted law enforcement procedures and protocols, based on the information reported by a 911 caller inside the store.
“The city of Beavercreek and its personnel have made no admission of any liability or wrongdoing and they remain confident that the actions taken by their police officers that day were appropriate based on the information available at the time.”
The night of the shooting, Ronald Ritchie called 911 from inside the Walmart and reported a suspicious man with a gun.
Wright previously said the family believed responsibility for the shooting remained with the store, Walmart, and the city of Beavercreek.
“Ritchie would not have called 911 had the BB gun been secure in the box,” Wright said in a 2019 interview with the Dayton Daily News. “So, Walmart’s ultimately responsible for this event.”
When shots were fired by Officer Williams, shoppers rushed to flee the store. One of them, Angela Williams, suffered a fatal heart attack. She and her children were shopping for school supplies.
A federal grand jury declined to indict Williams in Crawford’s death. That decision came in July 2017, almost three years after the shooting.
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