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New Expert Testimony Emerges in Crawford Walmart Shooting Civil Suit

The 2014 shooting of John Crawford sparked protests across the Miami Valley.
Wayne Baker
The 2014 shooting of John Crawford sparked protests across the Miami Valley.

New testimony from an expert witness appears to implicate the police officers involved in the shooting death of John Crawford III at a Walmart store in 2014. The statement emerged as part of the Crawford family’s ongoing civil suit against the Beavercreek police department and the Walmart company. But, the family’s attorney says the development is unlikely to trigger a new criminal investigation into Crawford’s shooting.

Crawford was shot and killed by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams at a Walmart store in 2014 after picking up a BB gun from a store shelf. Crawford’s family claims he had less than a second to respond to police commands.

No criminal charges were ever brought against Williams. A federal civil rights investigation related to the matter closed last summer.

John Crawford’s family later filed a civil suit against the Beavercreek Police Department and Walmart, alleging negligence and civil rights violations.

During a deposition in the case, Dr. George Nichols II, a former medical examiner and witness for the City of Beavercreek, said Crawford had not, in fact, turned towards officers before being shot.

This testimony appears to contradict earlier statements from defense witnesses, who claimed the shooting would only have been justified if Crawford had turned towards the police.

Now, Michael Wright, an attorney for the Crawford family, is asking a judge to rule in their favor before the civil suit goes to trial. However, he says he’s doubtful the expert witness’ testimony will trigger a new criminal investigation.

“After many disappointments as it relates to the criminal case," Wright says. "I’m just not optimistic nor hopeful that they they will do that.”

An attorney for the City of Beavercreek was unavailable to comment for this story.

The Crawford family's civil trial is scheduled to begin early next year.

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April Laissle is a graduate of Ohio University and comes to WYSO from WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio where she worked as a weekend host and reporter. There, she reported on everything from food insecurity to 4-H chicken competitions. April interned at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, where she focused on health reporting. She also worked on The Broad Experience, a New-York based podcast about women and workplace issues. In her spare time, April loves traveling, trying new recipes and binge-listening to podcasts. April is a Florida native and has been adjusting to Ohio weather since 2011.