Beavercreek police and city officials denied civil rights and wrongful death allegations in a federal lawsuit brought by the family of John Crawford III, who was killed by an officer while holding a BB/pellet rifle Aug. 5 in Walmart.
The federal civil lawsuit filed Dec. 16 in Dayton’s U.S. District Court by Crawford’s parents — Tressa Sherrod and John Crawford Jr. — was formally answered Friday by attorneys for officers Sean Williams, Sgt. David Darkow, Chief Dennis Evers and Beavercreek city officials.
The Beavercreek defendants are asking U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice to dismiss the complaint. The Wal-Mart corporation has until March 9 to submit its response. Defense attorneys have never publicly commented on the lawsuit.
Crawford’s parents and attorney have called for a federal civil rights investigation, but U.S. Attorney Office officials have only said the case is still under review.
Crawford, 22, of Fairfield, was shot and killed Aug. 5, 2014 by Williams. Williams responded to the Beavercreek Walmart store after one 911 caller said a black male was waving a rifle at people. Surveillance video showed Crawford had picked up the item from an opened box in the store and walked around with it while talking on the phone.
Beavercreek police said they told Crawford to drop the item before Williams shot Crawford twice. On Sept. 25, Williams was cleared of criminal charges by a Greene County special grand jury of five men and four women. Neither Darkow nor the 911 caller were considered for charges.
Answering one paragraph, Beavercreek attorneys wrote, defendants “have no knowledge of whether all police officers are trained to understand that many 911 callers provide inaccurate or otherwise unsubstantiated information, and are notoriously unreliable eye-witnesses.”
The special grand jury heard from 18 witnesses and then voted against potential charges of murder, reckless homicide and negligent homicide against Williams. At least seven “yes” votes were needed for a charge to be approved. Grand jury votes are not made public.
The lawsuit alleged 17 counts, including assault and battery, negligence and recklessness of duty and training in what was called Beavercreek police’s “malicious use of unreasonable and excessive force.”
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