It’s been well over three years since John Crawford III was killed in an Ohio Walmart store while holding an air rifle, browsing though merchandise and chatting on the phone.
Now, though, during a deposition in a federal lawsuit, Beavercreek, Ohio, Officer Sean Williams claims that he faced an “imminent threat” during his encounter with Crawford, even though he never saw the 22-year-old point the air rifle or threaten anyone.
The Associated Press notes, per a report from the Dayton Daily News, that the deposition shows that police relied on a single 911 caller that day who claimed that a man had a rifle.
Williams faced neither federal nor criminal charges in the shooting death. However, Crawford’s family filed a federal lawsuit against Williams, Walmart and the Police Department in the case, alleging negligence and civil rights violation. Police and Walmart have both refuted the allegations. The civil case is scheduled for trial next month.
Williams and Police Sgt. David Darkow have both claimed that Crawford did not respond to commands. Both officers claimed during the civil depositions that they didn’t realize Crawford was talking on his cellphone, and they could not say if he heard their commands.
Williams himself noted that he didn’t see anyone running or screaming or in pain; nor did he smell or hear gunfire. However, somehow, both he and Darkow perceived Crawford to be a threat.
“When I first observed John Crawford … he had a rifle in hand about to raise it up,” Williams said. “He had it in a low ready position and he was turning toward us with the rifle, which, at the very least, is an imminent threat to me, which is why I fired the rounds.”
However, attorneys representing Crawford’s family claimed that the officers’ depositions have made it “even more clear to the Crawford family that John never should have been shot and killed.”
One attorney representing the family, Michael Wright, described the surveillance footage as showing that the young father was shot “on sight.”
Read more at The Guardian.