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Family: Fatal Walmart police shooting not ‘justified’

The family of John Crawford III, who was shot and killed by Beavercreek police officers inside a Walmart after he failed to follow their commands to drop a realistic-looking rifle, “vehemently” disagree that the officers “acted appropriately under the circumstances.”

His parents, John Crawford Jr. and Tressa Sherrod, said Sunday they are seeking answers about their son’s death — listed as a homicide — and addressed their concerns at a news conference today, along with their attorney, Michael L. Wright.

The rifle in Crawford’s hands prompted a 911 call from another shopper who reported a man with a gun walking in the store and loading it. Authorities said the weapon Crawford removed from its packaging was an $84 Crosman MK-177 .177 caliber variable pump air rifle that shoots both BBs and pellets.

“The family is grieving,” Wright said. “We want to understand why a 22-year-old young man was shot and killed holding a BB gun in a store that sells BB guns.”

Crawford was shot by Beavercreek police officers Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow on Aug. 5 after he failed to obey their commands, Beavercreek police Chief Dennis Evers said during a news conference the following day. He said the officers arrived on the scene within three minutes of the 911 call when they encountered Crawford and shot him. Both are on administrative leave.

“The quick response of officers was instrumental in containing this situation and minimizing the risk of customers,” Evers said. “…Preliminary indications are that the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.”

Walmart customer Angela Williams, 37, of Fairborn, also died inside the store as a result of an medical emergency she suffered while running from the chaos with her 9-year-old daughter. An autopsy is attempting to determine the cause of Williams’ death. Her friends said she was supposed to get married last Saturday.

On Friday, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said it listed Crawford’s manner of death as homicide, or death as caused by another person. He died of a gunshot to the torso. Crawford’s full autopsy will take several weeks to complete.

Evers has asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to investigate if the officers properly used deadly force. The state investigation could take months to complete and will include a review of eyewitness accounts, video and audio recordings and toxicology results.

Wright said requests for information related to surveillance video footage and communication between the police department and retail store security have been made to the Beavercreek police, the attorney general’s office and Walmart.

“We are seeking to understand why, if this BB gun could not be distinguished from a real gun, why was it not locked up with the other firearms,” he said. “…We’re just seeking answers at this point… We are not being accusatory.”

BCI has received in-store video footage from around the immediate area of the shooting, but the agency has asked Walmart to provide footage from all of its roughly 120 store cameras, according to a attorney general’s office.

Wright said there are no plans for Crawford’s family to file a lawsuit at this time.

“We’ll wait and see what’s uncovered with this investigation and then make a determination at some point in the future,” he said.

The viewing for Williams, who worked as a nurse in Springfield, will be from 5-8 p.m. today at Belton-Stroup Funeral Home on Dayton Yellow Springs Road. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

Crawford’s funeral is set for Saturday in Cincinnati.

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