BEAVERCREEK, Ohio — The family of a man whom a Beavercreek police officer fatally shot inside a Walmart nearly six years ago says they are still fighting for justice, as they reached a $1.7 million settlement with the city this week.
Some of that money will go to John Crawford III’s two young children, attorney Michael Wright said. The children were 1 and 2 at the time of their father’s death.
On Aug. 5, 2014, Officer Sean Williams — one of two officers who entered Walmart after a 911 caller reported seeing a man with a gun in the store — shot Crawford twice as he was talking on a cell phone while holding the pellet gun he found unboxed on a store shelf.
Shopper Angela Williams, who had no connection to Crawford, suffered a fatal heart attack after the shots were fired. She was running away from the gunfire when she collapsed, according to the Greene County Coroner’s Office.
A Greene County special grand jury declined charges against Sean Williams and U.S. Department of Justice investigators took the case. In July 2017, they also declined to indict the officer, saying their investigation “revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws.”
The Crawford family later filed wrongful death civil suits against the city of Beavercreek, the officers and Walmart. On Wednesday, Wright confirmed that they agreed to a $1.7 million settlement with Beavercreek. The case against Walmart is set for trial on Nov. 2.
“The family is thankful for all the prayers and public support,” Wright said.
Crawford’s parents, John Crawford Jr. and Tressa Sherrod, share custody of his children. The elder Crawford lives in Tennessee and Sherrod lives in Fairfield.
The children, now 6 and 7 years old, are both in school and doing as well as can be expected, Wright said.
“They know that their father’s in heaven,” he said.
Part of the $1.7 million will be put into a trust for the children, Wright said, noting that the probate court will decide the amount.
Now that the case against Beavercreek has been settled, Wright said the family will focus on the Walmart lawsuit.
The family and their attorneys believe Walmart is primarily responsible for John Crawford III’s death. Had the pellet gun been properly secured on the store shelf, he would not have picked it up, and Ronald Ritchie, the Walmart shopper who dialed 911, would not have made the call, Wright said.
Walmart issued a statement in response to questions from the Dayton Daily News.
“We continue to sympathize with the Crawford and (Angela) Williams families for their losses,” the statement says. “Out of respect for everyone involved and because this matter is in litigation, we are not going to discuss the details of this matter outside of court.”