John Crawford III's family announced Tuesday they are suing the people involved in the fatal shooting of the 22-year-old black man inside a Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart store in August. They filed lawsuits against Police Sgt. David Darkow, Officer Sean Williams, Police Chief Dennis Evers, the city of Beavercreek, its police department and the Walmart corporation, the family's lawyers said in a press conference.
Crawford died Aug. 5 after police responded to a 911 call that said a man was waving around a rifle in the Walmart store. He didn't obey the police officers' directions to drop the weapon, which was later revealed to be an unpackaged BB gun he had picked up off the shelf. A grand jury decided Sept. 24 not to indict Williams or Darkow, the officers involved.
"The criminal justice system has refused to hold the officers accountable, so the civil system must," attorney Michael Wright said at the press conference announcing the lawsuits. "This is the only recourse that the Crawford family has."
The Crawford family's lawyers have asked for a total of $75,000 in damages from Beavercreek and Walmart. Crawford left behind two young children.
"My motivation is that from a prosecutorial standpoint, not from a monetary standpoint," Crawford's father, John Crawford Jr., said. "We live in a reality where there are children involved and left behind, so they need to be taken care of."
The lawyers said Walmart neglected to protect its customers. Walmart managers knew police had been contacted about the BB gun, which had been unwrapped on the shelf for two days, the lawyers said. Attorney Shean Williams called that a violation of industry standards. "We hold Walmart just as accountable as we hold the officers and the Beavercreek Police Department," he said.
The Beavercreek officers are also at fault for shooting Crawford on sight, Wright said. "John Crawford did nothing wrong," Wright said. "We want to bring change in the policies of the Beavercreek Police Department and the merchandising practices of the Walmart corporation. We want to make sure this tragedy does not happen to any other family."