DAYTON — Attorneys for the family of John Crawford III have filed a response in opposition to a stay request made by two Beavercreek police officers. The request for a stay, or delay in proceedings, comes in relation to a civil lawsuit filed by Crawford’s family against Beavercreek officers Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow, as well as other individuals and groups, in relation to Crawford’s death in August 2014.
In their filing, Crawford family attorneys argued against a delay in lawsuit discovery proceedings noting that the officers had previously made other statements in relation to Crawford’s death.
“Given that the defendants have voluntarily provided sworn and unsworn testimony, this court should deny the moving defendants’ attempt to pick and choose when they will, or will not, discuss Mr. Crawford’s death,” Crawford family attorneys wrote in their filing.
Attorneys noted that the officers had provided written statements for the Beavercreek Police Department, had answered questions from investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and during grand jury proceedings previously.
Crawford attorneys also noted in their response 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.”
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.
“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.
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.
Crawford’s family filed the federal, civil lawsuit against Williams and Darkow, as well as the city of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers and Wal-Mart, in December 2014 in relation to Crawford’s death.
The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton, 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.
A similar stay was granted in June to two Cleveland police officers involved in the deadly shooting of Tamir Rice. Attorneys for those officers made similar arguments in relation to a civil lawsuit and potential criminal charges and were granted a temporary stay of discovery.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.