No Federal Indictment for Cop Who Killed John Crawford for Holding a BB Gun

By Kenrya Rankin Jul 13, 2017

In September 2014, a Green County, Ohio, special grand jury opted not to indict Sean Williams, the White Beavercreek Police Department officer who shot and killed 22-year-old John Crawford for holding a toy gun in a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio. On Tuesday (July 11), the Department of Justice (DOJ) also declined to charge Williams.

Per Dayton Daily News, DOJ officials said that the investigation “revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws.”

As Colorlines previously reported:

Crawford was shopping on August 5 [2014] when he picked up a BB gun from a store shelf. He was on his cell phone as he carried the toy gun around at Walmart. Fellow shopper Ronald Ritchie called 911 and said Crawford was pointing the BB gun at people—although in an interview with The Guardian, he later admitted that Crawford never pointed it at anyone.

Officer Sean Williams and Seargent David Darkow, who are both White, responded to the scene and maintain that they ordered Crawford, who was Black, to drop his weapon; Williams fired because Crawford allegedly refused. But Crawford’s family says he was never ordered to put down the toy gun.

Beavercreek law director Stephen McHugh issued a statement to press:

The events of August 5, 2014, were tragic, and the Beavercreek Police Department wishes the outcome of that evening had been different. The Beavercreek Police Department has maintained the officers committed no criminal violations and followed accepted law enforcement protocol in their response to the report of an active threat in the Walmart store. The Beavercreek Police Department has fully cooperated with all investigations of this event and will continue to maintain the highest organizational values and constantly seek to uphold the trust of all citizens.

Michael Wright, the Crawford family’s attorney, told Dayton Daily News that the family is disappointed with the DOJ’s decision. “We continue to pursue justice through the civil case,” he said. “However, the family remains disappointed that the DOJ did not pursue charges…we believe there was ample evidence that charges should have been filed or pursued against the officers.”

The family’s wrongful death suit—which names the city, Williams, Seargent David Darkow (who was with Williams during the shooting) and Walmart at defendants—will go to trial in February.