Family of Fairfield man killed by police in Walmart shooting may move on with lawsuit, court rules

John Crawford II had picked up a pellet rifle from a shelf.

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court has revived a wrongful death claim against Walmart by the family of a Black man from Fairfield who was fatally shot by a white police officer inside a local store after picking up a pellet rifle from a shelf.

Twenty-two-year-old John Crawford III was shot at the Beavercreek store in August 2014 after someone called 911 to report a man with a gun. A judge dismissed his family’s wrongful death claim, but a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that in a 2-1 decision Wednesday.

Two judges concluded “a reasonable jury could find that Walmart failed to prevent Crawford from carrying a look-alike AR-15 openly around the store,” which could alarm shoppers, confuse police and cause an officer to respond as though the weapon were real.

The decision means the family can proceed toward trial on the wrongful death claim along with its other pending claims against the retailer, including negligence, one of the family's attorneys, Michael Wright, said Friday.

Messages seeking comment were left for Walmart and its attorney.

The family previously settled a wrongful death claim with Beavercreek and its police.

A grand jury declined to indict the officer who shot Crawford.

The 911 caller who reported that a man was waving a gun in the store also wasn’t charged. The prosecutor who made that decision said he didn’t find evidence that the caller knew the information he provided was false.

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