DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it’s closing the Crawford investigation after failing to find sufficient evidence to indict either officer involved.
The DOJ’s decision comes nearly 3 years after a Beavercreek Police officer shot and killed John Crawford III. The family of John Crawford is disappointed and upset, but their attorney Michael Wright says their fight for justice isn’t over yet.
“[We are] some what angry, some what disappointed,” Crawford family attorney Michael Wright said. “It’s been 3 years.”
Security footage shows Crawford taking a call and then walking around the store. He then takes a B-B gun off the store shelf. In another shot, you can see Crawford holding the pellet gun. Police say a customer assumed it was a real gun. He called 911 and officers responded.
Officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darcow found Crawford. According to Police reports, the officers confronted him, demanding he drop his weapon, seconds later Officer Williams shot Crawford. Both officers say Crawford didn’t obey their commands.
The case sparked a national outcry, with protesters saying the officers didn’t give Crawford enough time to react.
“The family believes as do I,” Wright said. “That there is ample evidence to move forward with these officers.”
But, Tuesday the U.S. Department of Justice disagreed.
“This investigation revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement released Tuesday. “That Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws.”
The Crawford Family overcome with grief, is now tasked with explaining the ordeal to John Crawford III’s two children, a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old.
“The grandfather indicate the children look at their father’s photos and they remember their father,” Wright said. “At times, he says it’s very difficult to try and explain from the picture where he’s is and that he’s in heaven know. He’s not going to come back so it’s very difficult.”
A civil suit against the two officers, the Beavercreek Police chief, the Beavercreek Police Department, the City of Beavercreek and Walmart is still pending. Wright say the suit is set for a February court date.
Wright & Schulte and The Cochran Firm OHIO released the following statement in regards to the DOJ ruling.
“Today, after being forced to wait nearly three painful years, the family of John Crawford expresses its significant disappointment with the Justice Department for failing to charge either Officer Sean Williams, Sergeant David Darkow or the Beavercreek Police Department for the unnecessary shooting and killing John Crawford at the Beavercreek Walmart on August 5, 2014.”
“From the insensitivity of authorities and the lack of accountability from an agency to this decision by the Department of Justice, our criminal justice system appears to be reinforcing the feelings of indifference for the lives of private citizens who fall victim to the violent actions and poor judgment of law enforcement in this community and across the country.”
“The prosecutor who presented the case to the state Grand Jury admitted that John had done nothing wrong when shopping at Walmart that fateful day, yet he was killed by the police. Only two citizens in the entire history of the Beavercreek have been killed by police, and the same officer, Sean Williams, killed BOTH of them. The evidence developed in the civil case shows that Officer Williams was far more violent than any officer on the force, but likely benefited from nepotism to keep his job. He had no reason to shoot and kill John, who had done nothing more than pick up a BB/pellet gun that was on the shelf, for sale, at Walmart. The Beavercreek Police Department knew Officer Williams was too quick to resort to violence, and the officer had more citizen complaints about his aggressive behavior than any other officer on the force. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system has failed the Crawford family, like so many victims of unnecessary police violence. John’s family must put its faith in the civil justice system to obtain some sense of balance and justice for John’s children and his parents.”
We reached out to the Beavercreek Police Department for comment Tuesday night. They told 2 NEWS someone will be available for comment Wednesday. We will update this story when we hear from them.