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‘We Will Continue to Fight’: Family of John Crawford III, the Ohio Man Killed in Walmart By the Cops While Holding a BB gun, Refiles Lawsuit After Judge Reveals She Has Stock In the Retail Chain

The family of the 22-year-old man killed in Walmart by police in Beavercreek, Ohio, nearly nine years ago has restarted the appeal process for the wrongful death lawsuit filed against the giant retailer after an appeals judge who ruled on the claim was found to have owned stock in Walmart.

John Crawford III was shot to death inside the retail store by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams on Aug. 5, 2014.

John Crawford III
John Crawford III was killed inside a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 2014. (Photo: WDTNTV News screenshot / YouTube)

Crawford was browsing an aisle while shopping inside the suburban Dayton Walmart and talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone. He was carrying an unboxed BB/pellet gun he found on a store shelf and was shot in the pet aisle after the police responded to someone inside calling 911. The caller reported “a black male” walking around the store with a rifle and pointing it at children.

Related: 911 Caller Involved in Wrongful Death of John Crawford III Will Not be Charged

Video of the shooting proved that Crawford did not point the BB gun at anyone and was holding the pellet gun pointed down when he was shot. Ohio is also an open-carry state.

His girlfriend LeeCee Johnson heard the shooting and said she heard Crawford say, “It wasn’t real” after being shot.

Williams approached Crawford and screamed, “Get down, get down, get down” before shooting Crawford and blowing off his elbow.

After handcuffing the 22-year-old as he lay moaning on the floor, Williams applied a tourniquet and tapped him on the face to keep him conscious. Williams told the dying man that help was on the way and “we’re here to help you.”

Another Walmart shopper — Angela Williams — had a heart attack and died when she heard the shots and began to run away before collapsing. A federal grand jury declined to indict Williams in 2017 for killing Crawford.

Crawford’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit in 2020 against the city, Williams, the Beavercreek Police Department, Officer David Darkow and former Police Chief Dennis Evers for $1.7 million and police policy changes.

The family also filed a lawsuit against Walmart, claiming the store improperly stored the pellet gun, and Crawford should not have been allowed to walk around with it unpackaged, but a district court judge initially dismissed the wrongful death claim against the retail outlet. The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed the decision last November.

Sixth Circuit Judge Helene White wrote a letter to Walmart and the Crawford family three months later to notify them that she owned stock in Walmart, which would have normally “required the judge’s recusal.”

Although White did not vote in Walmart’s favor when the decision was overturned, the retailer’s attorneys called for the decision by the appeals court to be vacated and heard by a new judge. The request was approved on April 11.

“The outcome of a decision is irrelevant to the recusal analysis,” wrote the Walmart attorneys. “Although Judge White ultimately ruled against Walmart, her known ownership of Walmart stock required recusal before she ruled in this case. And her failure to do so creates, at minimum, the appearance of impropriety.”

The family’s attorney Michael Wright said the family is “disappointed that the court of appeals made the decision to impanel a new set of judges for the case” and “we will continue to fight for this family.”

The Crawford family released a statement calling out Walmart’s lawyers for previously arguing in two cases that the decisions of judges who disclosed Walmart stock ownership after the fact should be upheld while saying the opposite for their case.

“Walmart’s only consistent approach is, ‘Walmart wins,’” read the statement. “Walmart demands the maximum remedy for a conflict rule that was intended to protect the other party, not Walmart. It is a classic game of, ‘Heads I win, tails you lose.’”

The new court date is not yet scheduled.

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