DAYTON — Two Beavercreek police officers named in the John Crawford III civil lawsuit have been granted a third delay in depositions by a federal judge.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Newman made the ruling Friday, granting a 30-day stay of depositions for Beavercreek officer Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow. Judge Newman has previously granted two similar 90-day stays for the officers.
The initial request by the officers to delay case discovery proceedings came in relation to an ongoing investigation into Crawford’s death being conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Crawford was shot and killed by Williams in the Beavercreek Wal-Mart Aug. 5, 2014, with Darkow standing nearby. Officers were brought to the store after a 911 caller alerted police to a man waving a rifle at store customers. Police say Crawford was shot after he didn’t respond to their commands to put down the rifle, which was later discovered to be a BB gun he picked up off a store shelf.
While a Greene County grand jury considered the case in September 2014 and declined to return an indictment against the officers involved in the shooting, the two could still potentially face federal charges if the DOJ investigation determined any federal laws had been broken.
“Because the federal criminal investigation remains ongoing, defendants are faced with the impossible and conflicting decision to invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and forgo the opportunity to defend themselves in this civil case or waive their privilege and potentially face criminal charges based upon their own testimony in this case,” a document filed by the officers’ legal counsel stated in the initial request for the delay.
According to DOJ spokeswoman Jennifer Thornton, the Crawford investigation remains ongoing.
“… There are no updates that we’re able to report at this time,” she wrote in a Monday email to this newspaper.
In a recent interview, Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers said that Williams remains on administrative assignment.
“I could put him back [on the street] and at some point we may have to have that discussion, but right now I’m keeping my commitment I made basically that he would not be in uniform and interacting with the public until all reviews were completed,” he said. “At this point I still intend to keep that.”
Attorneys for the Crawford family have previously argued against the lawsuit delays, noting that the officers had previously made other statements in relation to Crawford’s death. Crawford attorneys have also noted that the two officers are “key” to the case and that “substantial delay can lead to the loss of evidence and documents as well as faded memories that can frustrate plaintiff’s ability to meet their burden of proof.”
Under the previous stay rulings, Crawford attorneys were still allowed to depose other parties in the lawsuit.
The initial civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton by members of Crawford’s family, listed 17 counts against the defendants, ranging from assault and battery against the officers directly involved in the shooting, to negligent training and supervision against Evers and the city of Beavercreek, to negligence against Wal-Mart, as well as other charges.
In the lawsuit documents, the family asked for a jury trial and compensatory damages in excess of $75,000.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.