The wrongful death civil rights lawsuit brought by John Crawford III’s parents against Beavercreek and Walmart has been scheduled for a February 2019 trial date, according to federal court records.
But the case could be split into two trials, if a federal judge grants a motion from the city of Beavercreek to separate the defendants.
Dayton’s U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice scheduled the trial for Feb. 4, 2019 — a day shy of 4½ years after Crawford, 22, of Fairfield, was shot and killed by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams in Walmart.
Beavercreek police responded after lone 911 caller Ronald Ritchie said he saw a black man carrying a rifle and waving it at people, including children. Police said Crawford, who was on his cell phone, didn’t respond to requests by Williams and Sgt. David Darkow to drop the item — a realistic-looking BB/pellet rifle he picked up from an open box in the store.
Crawford’s attorneys said Crawford had less than a second to hear and respond to anything officers said. Williams was cleared by a Greene County special grand jury in September 2014, and a federal investigation ended in 2017 without criminal charges.
Beavercreek attorneys filed a motion to split the case. They argued that the Beavercreek defendants are facing civil rights allegations such as excessive force, the police department’s supervision, training and control of its officers in circumstances requiring the use of force.
The Beavercreek attorneys said the Walmart defendants face state law claims involving issues of negligence and premises liability concerning the packaging, storage, shelving and safeguarding of pellet rifles.
“Due to the vastly different sets of facts supporting the claims against these sets of Defendants,” Beavercreek attorneys wrote, “severance of the claims and separate trials are appropriate.”
Rice has not ruled on the motion.