Killing of John Crawford III

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Killing of John Crawford III
A surveillance screenshot of Crawford shot by the police
DateAugust 5, 2014 (2014-08-05)
Timec. 8:27 p.m.
LocationBeavercreek, Ohio, U.S.
TypeHomicide by shooting, police killing
  • Ronald Ritchie (911 caller)
  • Sean Williams (shooter)
  • David Darkow (accompanying officer)
  • John Crawford (shot and killed)
  • Angela Williams (died from heart attack)
LitigationWrongful death lawsuit settled for $1.7 million
John Crawford III
Photo of John Crawford III
Born(1992-07-29)July 29, 1992
Cincinnati, Ohio, US
DiedAugust 5, 2014(2014-08-05) (aged 22)
Beavercreek, Ohio, US
Cause of deathHomicide by shooting, police killing

The killing of John Crawford III occurred on August 5, 2014. Crawford was a 22-year-old African-American man shot and killed by a police officer in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton, while he was holding a BB gun that was for sale in the store.[1][2][3][4][5] The shooting was captured on surveillance video and led to protests from groups including the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement.[6][7][8]

A grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved on criminal charges.[6] The City of Beavercreek eventually settled civil claims for wrongful death brought by Crawford's estate and family.[9]


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 9-1-1 claiming that Crawford had been pointing the gun at fellow customers.[10] 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".[11]

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. Crawford was later pronounced dead at Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital.[12]

A second person, Angela Williams, died after suffering a heart attack while fleeing from the shooting.[13]

Police account[edit]

According to initial accounts from Officer Williams and the other officer involved, David Darkow, 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.[14][15]

Store video[edit]

The shooting was captured by the store's security video camera.[16] Crawford was talking on his cell phone while holding the BB/Pellet air rifle when he was shot to death by Williams.[17] The video shows the officers fired almost immediately after entering the store and sighting Crawford holding the BB gun. From the video, it is unclear whether officers gave verbal commands, and whether Crawford was shot before or after he reacted to the officers. [18]


Dayton NAACP President Derrick Foward seeks support from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

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.[19] Thomas died in a car crash in Dayton several months later on January 1, 2015.[20][21][22]

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.[23][24] The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted its own investigation.[25][26][27] Sean Williams, the officer who shot Crawford, was removed from normal duties until the federal investigation was complete.[28] In 2017, the DOJ announced that it declined to seek federal charges against the officer, who returned to full duty soon after.[29][30]

The 2017 DOJ report stated: "To establish willfulness, federal authorities would be required to show that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. This is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law. Mistake, misperception, negligence, necessity, or poor judgment are not sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation... ...To establish that Officer Williams acted willfully, the government would be required both to disprove his stated reason for the shooting – that he was in fear of death or serious bodily injury – and to affirmatively establish that Officer Williams instead acted with the specific intent to violate Mr. Crawford’s rights. The evidence here simply cannot satisfy those burdens. Accordingly, the review into this incident has been closed without prosecution."[31]

Crawford's mother believes that the surveillance tape shows the police lied in their account of events,[18] and has spoken out against the killing at a "Justice for All" march.[32] The family filed lawsuits for negligence and wrongful death against Walmart, the city of Beavercreek, and the police officers involved.[33][34][35] In 2020, the city of Beavercreek and the family settled their suit for $1.7 million.[9]

Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece proposed a "John Crawford's Law", which would change the way toy guns look to prevent similar tragedies.[36]

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.[37]

Media reaction[edit]

The incident received local and international[38][39][40] 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.[41][42][43]

See also[edit]


  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". 9 August 2014. 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 (26 September 2014). "'It was a crank call': family seeks action against 911 caller in Walmart shooting". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Staff, Breaking News (24 September 2014). "NAACP: Officers did not act justly in Walmart shooting". WHIO. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  7. ^ Wallace, Lewis. "Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today". WKSU-FM. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ a b "City of Beavercreek to settle wrongful death lawsuit with family, estate of John Crawford III". May 13, 2020. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  10. ^ "Source: Walmart "gunman" was carrying toy rifle". CBS News.
  11. ^ "Doubts cast on witness's account of black man killed by police in Walmart". the Guardian. 2014-09-07. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  12. ^ Gnau, Thomas (October 14, 2014). "Officer: 'I fired two shots center-mass at (John Crawford III)'". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Malik Perkins, Staff Writer. "Son of woman who died during Walmart shooting drowns". daytondailynews.
  14. ^ "Officer: 'I fired two shots center-mass at (Crawford)'". Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  15. ^ "Final autopsy report for John Crawford III". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Ohio Ohio Walmart video reveals moments before officer killed John Crawford". 25 September 2014.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ a b "Ohio Walmart video reveals moments before officer killed John Crawford". 25 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Video shows John Crawford's girlfriend aggressively questioned after Ohio police shot him dead in Walmart". December 14, 2014.
  20. ^ "Girlfriend of John Crawford, man killed by police in Walmart, dies in car crash | Ohio". The Guardian. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  21. ^ Golgowski, Nina. "Girlfriend of Ohio man shot dead by police in Walmart dies in car crash".
  22. ^ "Tasha Thomas, Girlfriend Of John Crawford III, Killed In New Year's Car Crash (DETAILS)". January 2, 2015.
  23. ^ Berman, Mark (September 24, 2014). "No indictments after police shoot and kill man at an Ohio Wal-Mart; Justice Dept. launches investigation". Washington Post.
  24. ^ "Grand jury issues no indictments in man's fatal shooting at Ohio Wal-Mart". September 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  25. ^ Jon Swaine (24 September 2014). "US Justice Department to review fatal police shooting of man in Walmart". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "U.S. will review police killing of Ohio man carrying air rifle - LA Times". 24 September 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  27. ^ "Ohio: Justice Department Will Review Shooting of Man by Police in Walmart". The New York Times. September 24, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Officer who shot John Crawford to stay on desk duty". December 12, 2014. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  29. ^ "Feds won't charge Beavercreek officer in Walmart shooting". July 11, 2017. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  30. ^ Mark Gokavi, Staff Writer. "Beavercreek officer who shot John Crawford III back on 'full duty'". daytondailynews. Archived from the original on 2020-06-13. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  31. ^ "Federal Officials Close Review of Fatal Shooting of John Crawford III". 2017-07-12. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  32. ^ "Thousands join 'Justice for All' march". Washington Post. December 13, 2014.
  33. ^ "Family of John Crawford, Man Killed by Police at Ohio Wal-Mart, Files Suit". NBC News. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  34. ^ "Family of Ohio man shot and killed in Walmart sue company, police". Reuters. December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  35. ^ Mark Gokavi (June 13, 2019). "Walmart: 911 caller 'intentionally lied to police' in Crawford shooting". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  36. ^ "Rep. Alicia Reece to introduce 'John Crawford Law'". November 24, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  37. ^ "Do Black People Have Equal Gun Rights?". The New York Times. October 25, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  38. ^ "USA: Abschied vom Traum einer postrassistischen Gesellschaft". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  39. ^ "VIDEOS. Tirs à tout-va et préjugés raciaux, les défauts qui plombent la police américaine - L'Express". 21 August 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  40. ^ "Hombre muerto en Wal-Mart portaba rifle de aire - Terra España". Archived from the original on December 13, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  41. ^ "A look at facts known in fatal police shooting at Ohio Wal-Mart, questions yet to be answered". Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  42. ^ Dolan, Matthew (5 December 2014). "Ohio Leaders Seek to Improve Police-Community Ties". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  43. ^ "Law Enforcement Tragedies Where Nobody Pays the Price". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2014.