City considers hiring PR firm in wake of fatal Walmart shooting

“The city is considering the possibility of a PR firm to work with us as a tool for legal counsel in a limited role if needed,” said Amy Blankenship, who works with Beavercreek City Attorney Stephen McHugh at Coolidge Wall Co. in Dayton. McHugh was not available for comment Tuesday, and city officials have not said if a specific firm has been selected or what duties the firm would perform.

The decision to hire a public relations firm comes more than a month after an officer fatally shot Walmart shopper John Crawford III, 22, of Fairfield, as he was carrying a bb gun around the store. Another shopper who called 911 and police thought the rifle was real.

Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers has said officers fired their weapons on the evening of Aug. 5 after Crawford failed to follow commands to drop the gun.

In addition to Crawford, Angela Williams of Fairborn died. The 37-year-old mother collapsed while running from the store with her 9-year-old daughter.

A special prosecutor from Hamilton County will begin presenting the case to a grand jury on Sept. 22 to determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Beavercreek police Officer Sean Williams or Sgt. David Darkow — the first officers at the scene.

Beavercreek officials have not said which officer fired the fatal shot. But Darkow has returned to duty while Williams remains on administrative leave, the city confirmed.

The case has gained national and international attention.

On Tuesday, Beavercreek City Manager Mike Cornell declined to comment on specifics of any arrangements with a public relations firm, stating the city attorney is handling the selection of the firm.

“The intent is to ensure that throughout this very difficult period that all accurate information is being provided … when needed,” Cornell said. “It’s similar to what other communities do. The help will be rendered if necessary to help convey what is occurring throughout this review. It’s part of a standard protocol that I think any municipality would follow in anticipation of providing information.”

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