Victim: John Crawford was fatally shot by a police officer in a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart store in 2014
The Beavercreek, Ohio police officer who fatally shot John Crawford III inside a Walmart store in 2014, testified that he believed the 22-year-old victim “was about to” point a weapon at him, documents reveal. Still officer Sean Williams admits, he never saw John Crawford III point a gun at or threaten anyone at Walmart, according to depositions in a federal wrongful death civil lawsuit.
Williams testified that he shot Crawford because the 22-year-old Fairfield resident “was about to” point a weapon at him while holding a rifle in a “low ready” position.
Officer Sean Williams said during a deposition that he perceived Crawford was an “imminent threat,” but admits he never saw him point what turned out to be an air rifle, according to a Dayton Daily News report.
Crawford was killed in August 2014 when police responded to a 911 call about someone waving a rifle in the store in the Dayton suburb.
Depositions also reveals that police relied on the lone 911 call from Ronald Ritchie, who said a man in the store had a rifle.
Williams testified that the fact dispatchers said Ritchie said the man was loading it and pointing it at people, led him in a direction so that when Crawford appeared to Williams to turn toward the officers, the totality of the circumstances was “the reason why I pulled the trigger.”
Shooter: No criminal charges were filed against Officer Sean Williams
Beavercreek police Sgt. David Darkow [photo] partnered Officer Sean Williams when he fatally shot John Crawford III on Aug 5, 2014
Officer Sean Williams shot Crawford twice in the left side on Aug. 5, 2014. Crawford died that night, as did a Walmart shopper, Angela Williams, who tried to flee the store and had a cardiac arrest after she heard the officer’s gunshots.
Responding officers Williams (no relation to Angela Williams) and Darkow both testified they didn’t realize that Crawford was on his cell phone and didn’t know if Crawford heard commands to drop the weapon.
Crawford was holding a replica-style BB[pellet￼] rifle he had taken from an opened box on a shelf.
No criminal charges were filed against Sean Williams, but victim’s relatives filed a civil suit against the Beavercreek police department and Walmart. The civil case is set to go to trial next month.
Officer Williams and Sgt. David Darkow claimed Crawford refused to respond to commands. However in their depositions, both officers admit that they didn’t realize Crawford was talking on his cellphone and didn’t know if he heard them.
Admitting no wrong Williams said that he waited more than a minute for Sgt. Darkow to respond before entering the Walmart store but did not bother to verify facts during that time by talking to either store staff or security.
Furthermore he testified, he didn’t observe anyone running, screaming, in pain, panicking and didn’t hear or smell gunfire at Walmart, officer Williams said.
Fact dispatcher Ronald Ritchie [photo], insists he stands by his message, despite proof he misled officers by claiming Crawford was loading a rifle and pointing it at people
“When I first observed John Crawford … he had a rifle in hand about to raise it up,” Williams said, the Dayton Daily News reports.
“He had it in a low ready position and he was turning toward us with the rifle, which, at the very least, is an imminent threat to me, which is why I fired the rounds.”
Crawford family lawyers told the newspaper said the depositions have made it “even more clear to the Crawford family that John never should have been shot and killed.”
Officer Sean Williams is shown with his rifle during the Aug. 5, 2014, fatal shooting of John Crawford III at the Beavercreek Walmart store, Aug 5, 2014.
“No one in the store was concerned or panicked, and only a single 911 caller even reported the situation,” Michael Wright and Dennis Mulvihill said in a statement. They claim the officers acted too quickly, “violated John’s constitutional rights, and violated many departmental procedures that tragic evening in Walmart. This tragedy never should have happened.”
A Greene County special grand jury cleared Williams of any criminal wrongdoing in September 2014. A federal investigation finished last summer with U.S. Department of Justice officials saying the probe “revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws.”