As the nation grapples with vital issues of racial and criminal justice in the aftermath of several tragic high-profile police-action killings, attorneys Michael Wright and Richard Schulte will discuss their representation of the family of John Crawford III, a 22-year-old African American man killed by police last August while he was shopping at the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart.
Wright and Schulte will present “The Ohio Walmart Killing of John Crawford III: A Tragic Police-Action Shooting,” on Tuesday, January 20, at 4:30 p.m. in the Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s Moot Court Room.
The event is open to the public and media, and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
On August 5, 2014, John Crawford III went into the Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart and saw a BB/pellet rifle for sale. The gun was not in a box or any other type of packaging and Crawford picked it up. When a customer saw Crawford with what appeared to be a weapon, he immediately called 911 to report an armed subject inside the store.
Crawford was on the phone with the mother of his two children when police arrived. The officers allege Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to put down the weapon. Just moments later one of the Beavercreek officers fired two shots, striking and killing him.
The incident was captured on the store’s surveillance cameras, and the footage was released after a grand jury voted against the indictment of either of the two responding police officers. A federal investigation into the incident remains underway by federal authorities.
In December, Crawford’s family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Beavercreek, the two responding officers, the city’s police chief, and Walmart.
“All we want is justice for John Crawford and everyone responsible for John Crawford’s death should be held responsible,” Wright said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “The criminal justice system refused to hold those accountable so the civil system must.”
Crawford’s death is one of several other recent high-profile incidents involving police-related deaths. Four days after Crawford was killed, unarmed teenager Michael Brown was fatally wounded by police in Ferguson, Missouri. In Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice also had a pellet gun when he was shot and killed by responding officers. And in New York, Eric Garner died after being restrained around the neck by an officer. His final words—“I can’t breathe”—have become an unofficial rallying cry for protesters demonstrating against excessive police force.
The Jan. 20 presentation is being sponsored by the American Constitution Society and Black Law Students Association.
Media planning to cover the event should contact James Boyd at [email protected] or 812-855-0156 to make arrangements.