Wright & Schulte files civil suit in Ohio Beaver Creek Walmart Police shooting of John H. Crawford, III in the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division. Attorney Michael Wright, a founding partner of Wright & Schulte LLC, is representing the family of John Crawford III.
As listed in the Civil Suit:
FACTS AS TO THE BEAVERCREEK DEFENDANTS
18. On August 5, 2014, at approximately 8:21 p.m., Defendants Williams and Darkow responded to a 911 caller who claimed that a black man at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart was pointing a gun at customers. Upon their arrival at that location at 8:24 p.m., the officers entered the Beavercreek Wal-Mart and located the individual identified by the 911 caller, later identified as John H. Crawford, III.
19. Mr. Crawford was a customer and business invitee at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart, and he was not doing anything dangerous or illegal while shopping there. In fact, Mr. Crawford was at the store with his friend to buy ingredients to make S’mores at a family cookout and was at the Wal-Mart store for those reasons for which the store is open to the public.
20. While present at the Beavercreek Wal-Mart, John H. Crawford, III had picked up an unloaded MK-177 BB/Pellet Rifle [hereinafter, the “Pellet Rifle”] that was unboxed and lying on one of the store’s shelves.
21. Mr. Crawford never used, loaded, or pointed the Pellet Rifle at anyone, was doing nothing improper or illegal, and never caused any harm or acted in a manner that would cause any reasonable person to believe that he may cause harm.
22. At or about 8:24 P.M., Defendants Williams and Darkow entered the Beavercreek Wal-Mart, and they located John H. Crawford III at or about 8:27 P.M.
23. When Defendants Williams and Darkow located John H. Crawford, III, he was talking on a cell phone held in his right hand, with no other customers in his vicinity, and with his left side and back visible to the two police officers. Mr. Crawford was holding the Pellet Rifle in his left hand pointed down at the floor.
24. Defendant Williams shot and killed Mr. Crawford approximately one second after Defendant Williams or Darkow first made contact with him.
25. As a result, Mr. Crawford was shot before he even had time to react to the officer’s presence, much less to comply with any verbal commands Defendants Williams or Darkow may have made.
26. Williams shot John H. Crawford, III in the back of his left arm and the left side of his torso, further evidencing that John H. Crawford, III was shot before he had time to react to the officers’ presence or comply with any commands that may have been made.
27. John H. Crawford, III did not act aggressively or dangerously, or otherwise act in a manner to cause Defendants Williams or Darkow, or anyone else, to believe that he posed a danger to these Defendants or to customers of the Beavercreek Wal-Mart.
28. The Pellet Rifle Mr. Crawford was holding was not loaded, contrary to a claim in the 911 call that Mr. Crawford was loading a gun,
29. Defendants Williams and/or Darkow failed to take steps to assess whether any of the information provided by the 911 caller or dispatcher was accurate before Williams shot and killed Mr. Crawford, though they had an obligation to do so.
30. All police officers are trained to understand that many 911 callers provide inaccurate or otherwise unsubstantiated information, and are notoriously unreliable eye- witnesses. As such, police officers have a duty that must be exercised reasonably, to assess any situation before interviewing with lethal force. In this case, the Officers Williams and Darkow acted unreasonably, in that they did not properly assess the situation, and simply killed an
Case: 3:14-cv-00454-WHR Doc #: 1 Filed: 12/16/14 Page: 9 of 26 PAGEID #: 9
unarmed shopper who was not breaking any laws of the State of Ohio or the City of Beavercreek. In this circumstance, there existed no information to suggest that John Crawford, III was a threat to anyone in the store, much less the police officers. In the minutes leading up to his death, several shoppers walked by or near John Crawford, III and exhibited no signs of fear or concern that Mr. Crawford presented a threat to anyone. It was objectively unreasonable for the Officers Williams and Darkow to shoot and kill Mr. Crawford while claiming that their lives, or the lives of others, were in danger.
31. Ohio is an open carry state meaning that it is legal for the citizens of Ohio to carry weapons, including rifles, without permit. Although John H. Crawford, III merely picked up a pellet gun from a store shelf that sold pellet guns, whether the gun was Walmart merchandise or a weapon of his own that he brought into the store, John H. Crawford, III was doing nothing wrong and in violation of no law or ordinance in the moments leading up to his death. Because it is permissible to carry merchandise one desires to purchase, and it is further permissible to carry rifles openly in Ohio, the actions of the Officers Williams and Darkow were particularly unreasonable, arbitrary, and egregious in engaging and shooting a shopper, John H. Crawford, III, who was doing what people do in stores—shop.