The family of John Crawford III, a 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police in an Ohio Wal-Mart while holding a toy gun, filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday against the police officers involved and Wal-Mart.
The family is seeking $75,000 in damages, according to the suit. Crawford's father, John Crawford Jr., appeared Tuesday with family attorneys Michael Wright, Richard Schulte and Shean Williams at a press conference in Dayton, Ohio. "The criminal justice system has refused to hold the officers accountable, so the civil justice system must," Wright said.
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“John Crawford broke no law. John Crawford threatened no one. John Crawford was shopping and talking on his cell phone,” Wright added.
On Aug. 5, Crawford was shopping at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio and picked up an unpackaged "BB gun" from a shelf. Beavercreek police arrived at the scene after receiving a 911 call from another customer at the Wal-Mart, who allegedly said that Crawford was waving the gun around and pointing it at people. Police said Crawford was shot after he did not respond to commands to drop the weapon.
The suit names officers Sean Williams and David Darkow, who were involved in the shooting, as defendants, as well as Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers. The suit also names Wal-Mart as a defendant, and they attorneys said Tuesday that they felt Wal-Mart was partly to blame because the store had left the BB gun unpackaged on the shelf in the store for at least two days. They said it was a violation of Wal-Mart policy at other stores.
"Our condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones. Out of respect for everyone involved, we believe it's not appropriate to discuss the specifics of this matter, but we can say that our associates acted properly," Wal-Mart said in a statement. "We take the safety and security of our stores very seriously so that Walmart remains a safe shopping experience for our customers."
Ohio is also an open-carry state, meaning it is legal to openly carry guns in public places. So even if the BB gun Crawford was carrying had been a real gun, he could still have been within the law to carry it.
In September, a grand jury decided not to indict officers William and Darkow in Crawford’s death. Following the grand jury decision, the Department of Justice announced that it would open a civil rights investigation into the case.
Crawford’s case has received renewed attention in the few weeks, as the nation reacts to grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Protesters around the nation have rallied against the grand jury decisions in both cases using the slogan “black lives matter.” Crawford’s parents also joined a march against police in brutality in Washington, D.C. last weekend.
This week, The Guardian newspaper released new video that shows Beavercreek police aggressively interrogating Tasha Thomas, Crawford’s girlfriend, for more than an hour after his death. In an interview Tuesday with msnbc's Ari Melber, Thomas called the police questioning “uncalled for.”