A white Ohio cop who shot and killed a Black man in a Walmart four years ago believed he faced an “imminent threat,” but admitted he never saw the man point a gun at or threaten anyone in the store, according to depositions in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Legal documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News from the family of John Crawford III on Wednesday, Jan. 4, showed that Beavercreek cop Sean Williams and fellow Sgt. David Darkow relied on false information from a lone 911 caller about a man allegedly waving a rifle in the store. The call ultimately led to Crawford’s fatal shooting on Aug. 5, 2014.
He was just 22 years old.
Williams testified that he fired at Crawford because the thought the man “… was about to” point a weapon at him as he held a rifle, which turned out to be a replica, in a “low ready” position, the newspaper reported. Relying solely on faulty information given to dispatchers, Williams said the totality of the circumstances was “the reason why I pulled the trigger.”
During their depositions, both officers testified that they were unaware that Crawford was talking on his cell phone at the time of the incident and were unsure if he heard demands to drop the weapon before Williams opened fire.
Crawford’s family filed suit against the Beavercreek police and Arkansas–based Walmart, alleging negligence and civil rights violations in their loved one’s demise. The civil case is set for trial sometime next month, according to The Guardian.
“Based on the depositions of the two officers, it’s become even more clear to the Crawford family that John never should have been shot and killed,” Crawford family attorneys Dennis Mulvihill and Michael Wright said in a statement. ” … No one in the store was concerned or panicked, and only a single 911 caller even reported the situation.”
“This tragedy never should have happened,” they added.
Crawford’s death was just one in a string of police killings of African-Americans across the country that brought attention to an officer’s use of force when dealing with Black citizens. A grand jury ultimately declined to indict Williams and Darkow in Crawford’s fatal shooting.
911 caller Ronald Ritchie wasn’t charged for the false report that led to the young man’s killing either.