Cop Felt Lives in Danger Before Wal-Mart Shooting
CINCINNATI (AP) — The police officer who fatally shot a man in an Ohio Wal-Mart said the man didn’t respond to repeated commands to drop the weapon and turned toward officers in an aggressive manner.
Officer Sean Williams stated in his written narrative that he saw the man was holding a weapon that he could shoot any time in the crowded store in Beavercreek, a Dayton suburb, just before Williams fired two shots at him with his rifle.
“I felt at that moment that my life was in immediate danger, that Sgt. (David) Darkow’s life was in immediate danger, and that the lives of all the families, children, and customers were in immediate danger. I then fired two rounds at the suspect,” Williams said.
The written narratives of the two Beavercreek police officers were made public Friday in the aftermath of a special grand jury’s decision not to issue any indictments in the Aug. 5 death of 22-year-old John Crawford III. Police responded after a 911 caller reported that Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle, which turned out to be an air rifle.
The Crawford family’s attorney sharply questioned the officers’ versions of events, first reported Friday by the Dayton Daily News. He said store surveillance video he has viewed didn’t show Crawford acting aggressively.
“Wow,” attorney Michael Wright said after being told about Williams’ version. “Wow is all I can say at this moment.”
He said he wanted to read the narratives himself before commenting further.
Darkow’s narrative was similar to Williams’, saying Crawford appeared to be holding “a black assault rifle” in what he described as “a low ready position.” Darkow said Crawford looked at them while holding the rifle and “made a quick movement” just before Williams fired.
Williams’ narrative stated that after Crawford fell backward from his rifle shots, the officer saw what appeared to be a loaded rifle on the floor and as he rushed to get it, “the black male jumped from behind the aisle and charged towards the weapon. He began to reach for it … I yelled for him to get on the ground.”
He said Crawford then collapsed, and he rolled him over and forced his hands together to handcuff them behind his back. Williams said police used tourniquets on Crawford for his bleeding until medics arrived. Darkow wrote that “a large amount of blood” was pooling on the floor.
Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid, who assisted in the grand jury presentation, said earlier that Crawford was shot twice by one officer, once in the elbow and once in the side under the rib area slightly from the front to the back.
Crawford’s family, which has called for a federal investigation, said Wednesday it was “incomprehensible” that police weren’t indicted. A special prosecutor said Greene County grand jurors decided the officers’ actions were justified.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it will review the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting. Crawford’s family has sought a federal investigation to see if race was a factor. Crawford was black and the officers are white.
The city of Beavercreek said Wednesday it had asked the FBI to conduct a review, even though its statement said the officers did what they were trained to do. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said after the grand jury’s decision was announced that it was an appropriate time for the Justice Department to look into whether any federal laws were violated.