The Family of A Beaver County Man Who Fatally Shot Himself Inside A Police Vehicle Has Filed A Wrongful Death Lawsuit!
A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the family of a man fatally shot by police at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, can proceed with their wrongful death claim against the retail behemoth.
In August 2014, a Beavercreek police shot and killed John Crawford III, a resident of Fairfield, while he was in Walmart and possessing a pellet gun. He was 22.
Later that year, Crawford’s family filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it had done nothing to stop Crawford from moving an unpackaged pellet pistol among customers and through the store, giving authorities the impression that he was carrying a real gun.
Additionally, the family sued the city, former police chief Dennis Evers, and officers Sean Williams and David Darkow of Beavercreek. Those claims were resolved in a settlement for $1.7 million and police policy reforms.
The pellet pistol, which resembled an automatic rifle, was out of the box and on a shelf, according to a 2014 Enquirer article. Crawford strolled around the shop aimlessly after picking up the pellet gun.
According to court documents, Crawford was on camera speaking on his phone and standing in an aisle with the pistol pointed down moments before police approached him.
A district court judge had rejected the wrongful death claim, but the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned the lower court’s judgment by a vote of 2-1 this week.
The court’s majority ruling states that “At the time of Crawford’s passing, Walmart had no regulations to prevent customers from picking up unsecured and unboxed pellet guns… and carrying them throughout the store without employee supervision.”
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Williams fatally shot Crawford because he thought the gun he thought was being pointed at him was an accurate assault rifle, according to the opinion. “A reasonable jury could find that Walmart failed to prevent Crawford from carrying a look-alike AR-15 openly around the store… and that this omission created an excited state of mind in Williams, who fatally shot Crawford,” the opinion states.
In light of the court’s ruling, Crawford’s family may proceed with their wrongful death claim. The family is suing Walmart for additional reasons, such as negligence.
According to Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokeswoman, “We take the safety and security of our customers seriously and continue to sympathize with the family of John Crawford.” We respectfully object to the court’s decision and will keep fighting for the company.