Federal lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart and officers involved in - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Federal lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart and officers involved in Crawford shooting death

Beavercreek Wal-Mart provided photo. Beavercreek Wal-Mart provided photo.

The family of John Crawford III filed a federal lawsuit against Wal-Mart and the police officers involved in his shooting death Tuesday.

Officers shot and killed 22-year-old Crawford at a Beavercreek Wal-Mart in August after a 911 caller said he was waving a gun inside the store. That gun turned out to be an air rifle.

Several members of Crawford's family filed the lawsuit Tuesday against three members of the City of Beavercreek Police Department, the Beavercreek mayor, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wal-Mart Stores East LP and the Beavercreek Wal-Mart on Pentagon Blvd. 

“Our condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones," Wal-Mart said in a statement. "We believe it's not appropriate to discuss the specifics of this matter, but we can say that our associates acted properly. We take the safety and security of our stores very seriously so that Wal-Mart remains a safe shopping experience for our customers.”

The plaintiffs are asking for compensatory damages and punitive damages in excess of $75,000 from the Beavercreek and Wal-Mart defendants. 

"This is really just the beginning as far as I'm concerned," said Crawford's father, John Crawford II. "You have to be held accountable. You don't get a free pass because you have a side arm and a shield. In fact, you are set to hold higher standards." 

The lawsuit states that Officer Sean Williams shot Crawford one second after they officers first made contact with him. As a result, the lawsuit says, Crawford did not have time to react, let alone comply with verbal commands, before he was shot. 

"We acknowledge the family's right to bring this action and are confident the trial will be fair and impartial," the City of Beavercreek said in statementnt to the media. "We believe the evidence will prove that the officer's actions were legally justified."

The lawsuit also claims that, while the 911 caller stated that Crawford was holding a loaded gun, police officers are trained to understand that 911 callers frequently provide inaccurate information and are notoriously unreliable eye witnesses. 

"In this case, the Officers Williams and Darkow acted unreasonably, in that they did not properly assess the situation and simply killed unarmed shopper who was not breaking any laws of the State of Ohio or the City of Beavercreek," the lawsuit says. 

According to the lawsuit, Wal-Mart has policies in place that determine where realistic-looking toy guns are placed in its stores. But the lawsuit claims that Wal-Mart failed to take the precautionary steps to ensure those guns are reasonably secured. 

"Wal-Mart had a duty not only to Mr. Crawford but to all customers that day including Angela Williams to ensure that their policy and procedures allow that Wal-Mart is a reasonably safe place to stop," said family lawyer Shean Williams.

Crawford's family asks that the 17 counts be reviewed at a trial by jury.

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