Shooting of John Crawford III

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Shooting of John Crawford III
Walmart surveillance capturing shooting of John Crawford III.png
A surveillance screenshot of Crawford shot by the police
DateAugust 5, 2014 (2014-08-05)
LocationBeavercreek, Ohio, U.S.
  • John Crawford (shot and killed)
  • Angela Williams (died from heart attack)
  • Sean Williams & David Darkow, two Beavercreek Police Department officers (shooters)
ChargesNone filed

The shooting of John Crawford III occurred on August 5, 2014. Crawford was a 22-year-old African-American man shot and killed by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams, in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton, while holding a BB gun.[1][2][3][4][5]

A grand jury declined to indict the two officers on criminal charges. Crawford's killing led to protests, including some organized by the Black Lives Matter movement.

A lawsuit for negligence and wrongful death is in progress against both Walmart and Beavercreek.[6]


Photo of John Crawford III

John Crawford III was born on July 29, 1992.[citation needed]


Crawford picked up an un-packaged BB/pellet air rifle inside the store's sporting goods section and continued shopping in the store. Another customer, Ronald Ritchie, called 911. Claiming that Crawford had been pointing the gun at fellow customers. That claim proved to be a lie.[7] Security camera footage showed that Crawford was talking on his cellphone and holding the BB gun as he shopped, but at no point did he aim the BB gun at anyone. After the security camera footage was released, Ritchie recanted his statement that led to the fatal shooting and stated, "At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody", while maintaining that Crawford was "waving it around".[8] Two officers of the Beavercreek Police arrived at the Walmart shortly after their dispatcher informed them of a "subject with a gun" in the pet supplies area of the store. Sean Williams, one of the two police officers that arrived, shot Crawford in the arm and chest. He was later pronounced dead at Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital.[9]

A second person, Angela Williams, died after suffering a heart attack while fleeing from the shooting. Her death was ruled a homicide (which legally means only that the death was as a direct result of the actions of another and does not imply guilt or responsibility on anyone's part). Later, in 2016, William's son, Travis Williams, had a heart attack while swimming in Madison Lake in Trotwood, Ohio. He was only a sophomore in high school. [10]

Police account

According to initial accounts from the officers, Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to drop the BB gun and lie on the ground, and eventually began to move as if trying to escape. Believing the BB gun was a real firearm, one of the officers fired two shots into Crawford's torso and arm. He died of his injuries shortly afterwards.[11][12]

Store video

The shooting was captured by the store's security video camera.[13] Crawford was talking on his cell phone while holding the BB/Pellet air rifle when he was shot to death by Williams.[14] According to Crawford's mother, the video shows the officers fired immediately without giving any verbal commands and without giving Crawford any time to drop the BB gun even if he had heard them.[15]


The Guardian revealed in December that immediately after the shooting, police aggressively questioned Crawford's girlfriend, Tasha Thomas, threatening her with jail time. The interrogation caused her to sob uncontrollably, with hostile questions suggesting she was drunk or on drugs when she stated that Crawford did not enter the store with a gun. She was not yet aware of Crawford's death at the time of the interrogation.[16][17] Thomas died in a car crash months later.[18][19][20]

Following the shooting, a grand jury decided not to indict any of the officers involved on charges of either murder, reckless homicide, or negligent homicide.[21][22] The Justice Department conducted its own investigation.[23][24][25] Sean Williams, the officer who shot Crawford, was removed from normal duties until the DoJ investigation was complete.[26] The Justice Department declined to issue charges against the officer.[27]

Crawford's mother believes that the surveillance tape shows the police lied in their account of events,[15] and has spoken out against the killing at a "Justice for All" march.[28] The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart and the Beavercreek police department.[29][30]

Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece has proposed a "John Crawford's Law", which would change the way toy guns look to prevent similar tragedies.[31]

The family has created a petition on to call for the prosecution of the officer involved in the shooting of John Crawford.[32]

Media reaction

The incident received local and international[33][34][35] coverage, in part due to the time of its occurrence; the then-recent police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent unrest there had attracted public attention, as did the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland.[36][37][38]

Ohio is an "open carry" state, in which the open carrying of firearms is legal with or without a license, which prompted discussion of gun rights and race.[39]

The Black Lives Matter movement has protested Crawford's death.[40][41]

See also


  1. ^ "Source: Ohio Walmart "gunman" John Crawford, fatally shot by police, was carrying toy rifle - CBS News". Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  2. ^ "Law Enforcement Tragedies Where Nobody Pays the Price". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  3. ^ "Cops shoot and kill man holding toy gun in Wal-Mart". Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  4. ^ "Ohio Wal-Mart surveillance video shows police shooting and killing John Crawford III". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  5. ^ Jon Swaine. "'It was a crank call': family seeks action against 911 caller in Walmart shooting". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  6. ^ Mark Gokavi (June 13, 2019). "Walmart: 911 caller 'intentionally lied to police' in Crawford shooting". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  7. ^ "Source: Walmart "gunman" was carrying toy rifle".
  8. ^ "Doubts cast on witness's account of black man killed by police in Walmart".
  9. ^ Gnau, Thomas (October 14, 2014). "Officer: 'I fired two shots center-mass at (John Crawford III)'". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Officer: 'I fired two shots center-mass at (Crawford)'". Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  12. ^ "Final autopsy report for John Crawford III". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Ohio Ohio Walmart video reveals moments before officer killed John Crawford".
  14. ^ "Father of man killed by police in Ohio Wal-Mart says he heard son's dying breaths on phone". September 7, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Police officer who shot black man in Walmart lied, victim's mother says".
  16. ^ "Video shows John Crawford's girlfriend aggressively questioned after Ohio police shot him dead in Walmart". December 14, 2014.
  17. ^ "Girlfriend of John Crawford, man killed by police in Walmart, dies in car crash". Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Berman, Mark (September 24, 2014). "No indictments after police shoot and kill man at an Ohio Wal-Mart; Justice Dept. launches investigation". Washington Post.
  22. ^ "Grand jury issues no indictments in man's fatal shooting at Ohio Wal-Mart". September 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  23. ^ Jon Swaine. "US Justice Department to review fatal police shooting of man in Walmart". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  24. ^ "U.S. will review police killing of Ohio man carrying air rifle - LA Times". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  25. ^ "Ohio: Justice Department Will Review Shooting of Man by Police in Walmart". The New York Times. September 24, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "Officer who shot John Crawford to stay on desk duty". December 12, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  27. ^ "Feds won't charge Beavercreek officer in Walmart shooting". July 11, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  28. ^ "Thousands join 'Justice for All' march". Washington Post. December 13, 2014.
  29. ^ "Family of John Crawford, Man Killed by Police at Ohio Wal-Mart, Files Suit". NBC News. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  30. ^ "Family of Ohio man shot and killed in Walmart sue company, police". Reuters. December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  31. ^ "Rep. Alicia Reece to introduce 'John Crawford Law'". November 24, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  32. ^ "Petition - Justice for our son, John Crawford".
  33. ^ "USA: Abschied vom Traum einer postrassistischen Gesellschaft". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  34. ^ "VIDEOS. Tirs à tout-va et préjugés raciaux, les défauts qui plombent la police américaine - L'Express". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  35. ^ "Hombre muerto en Wal-Mart portaba rifle de aire - Terra España". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  36. ^ "A look at facts known in fatal police shooting at Ohio Wal-Mart, questions yet to be answered". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  37. ^ "Ohio Leaders Seek to Improve Police-Community Ties". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  38. ^ "Law Enforcement Tragedies Where Nobody Pays the Price". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  39. ^ "Do Black People Have Equal Gun Rights?". The New York Times. October 25, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  40. ^ Wallce, Lewis. "Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today". WKSU-FM. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  41. ^ "but john Crawford was shot dead in less than 4 seconds in the Walmart in Ohio. Didn't resist". Black Lives Matter. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
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