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Officer in Walmart shooting says he never saw Crawford threaten anyone

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 5:25 PM

SECURITY VIDEO shows moments leading up to John Crawford shooting

Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams said he never saw John Crawford III point a gun at or threaten anyone at Walmart, according to depositions in a federal wrongful death civil lawsuit.

But Williams testified that he shot Crawford because the 22-year-old Fairfield resident “was about to” point a weapon at him while holding a rifle in a “low ready” position.

The legal documents obtained by this news outlet from Crawford family attorneys also indicate Williams and Sgt. David Darkow relied on information relayed to them from Ronald Ritchie, the lone 911 caller, who said a man in the store had a rifle.

RELATED: Beavercreek officer who shot John Crawford III back on ‘full duty’

Williams testified that the fact dispatchers said Ritchie said the man was loading it and pointing it at people led him in a direction so that when Crawford appeared to Williams to turn toward the officers, the totality of the circumstances was “the reason why I pulled the trigger.”

The depositions of Williams and Darkow provide the most publicly available in-depth look at the perspectives of the law enforcement officers involved in the Aug. 5, 2014, fatal shooting of Crawford.

“Based on the depositions of the two officers, it has become even more clear to the Crawford family that John never should have been shot and killed,” according to a statement from Crawford family attorneys Michael Wright and Dennis Mulvihill. 

John Crawford III(Staff Writer)

RELATED: Feds won’t charge Beavercreek officer in Walmart shooting

The attorneys for Tressa Sherrod, Crawford’s mother, questioned the trustworthiness of Williams and Darkow.

“No one in the store was concerned or panicked, and only a single 911 caller even reported the situation,” the attorneys said in their statement, adding they believed the officers acted too quickly, “violated John’s constitutional rights, and violated many departmental procedures that tragic evening in Walmart. This tragedy never should have happened.”

Attorneys for Walmart and for Beavercreek and its officers on Wednesday did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the depositions or the case.

A Greene County special grand jury cleared Williams of any criminal wrongdoing in September 2014. A federal investigation finished last summer with U.S. Departmemt of Justice officials saying the probe “revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws.”

RELATED: Beavercreek’s legal bill in Crawford case $430,000 and counting

Crawford was holding a replica-style BB/pellet rifle he had picked up from an opened box on a store shelf and was talking on his phone to the mother of his two children. His parents’ attorneys have said Crawford had from a third to a half of one second to hear, understand and react to any commands.

Depositions from Ritchie and his wife, April — both former Walmart employees — also said they regret the loss of life, but that they didn’t feel responsible.

Ronald Ritchie testified he felt sad, but that he didn’t regret his actions.

“I have actually been asked this question before in grand jury,” Ritchie said in his Feb. 11, 2016, deposition taken in St. Petersburg, Fla. “And I said then that if something like this was to happen again, I’d probably do the same thing.”

RELATED: Williams used force 10 times the department average

Williams shot Crawford twice in the left side on Aug. 5, 2014. Crawford died that night, as did shopper Angela Williams, who tried to flee the store and had a cardiac arrest after she heard the officer’s gunshots. Crawford’s parents filed a lawsuit in late 2014.

Officer Williams (no relation to Angela Williams) and Darkow testified they didn’t realize that Crawford was on his cell phone and didn’t know if Crawford heard commands to drop the weapon.

Williams said he didn’t observe anyone running, screaming, in pain, panicking and didn’t hear or smell gunfire at Walmart. He also said that he waited more than a minute for a second officer (Darkow) to respond before entering Walmart and that he didn’t during that time talk to store staff or security.

EARLIER: Administration change shouldn’t affect Crawford investigation, U.S. Attorney says

Darkow testified that both officers would have been justified in shooting Crawford without giving any commands because of the threat perceived via the 911 caller.

A citizen-led effort to prosecute Ritchie ended when special prosecutor Mark Piepmeier — the same attorney who convened the special grand jury — decided against pursuing charges.

The civil lawsuit is ongoing in Dayton’s U.S. District Court. The trial is currently scheduled for Feb. 5.

RELATED: Prosecutor said case was ‘tragic’ and ‘perfect storm of circumstances’

In his deposition taken Sept. 14, 2017, Williams said he disagreed with Beavercreek police Chief Dennis Evers that Crawford was not violating any law.

“When I first observed John Crawford, he was, 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.”

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Man pleads guilty in 2016 Dayton vehicular homicide case

Published: Monday, February 26, 2018 @ 4:34 PM

Benny Jewett IV
Benny Jewett IV

A Dayton man pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated vehicular homicide in the 2016 crash of two vehicles fleeing separate attempted traffic stops.

Benny Jewett IV, 23, was to go on trial on six counts related to the May 7, 2016 death of Tyler Cross, 22, of Dayton. Cross was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Steven Swain.

RELATED: Dead man identified in fatal traffic stop collision

Instead, Jewett pleaded guilty to three counts — vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer — in exchange for three counts being dismissed.

Jewett is scheduled to be sentenced March 20.

Heroin was found in both vehicles, one of which was stolen, according to police accounts. A handgun also was found in one vehicle. The crash happened at Ruth and Jerome avenues.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

Dayton Maj. Matt Carper said in 2016 that out of concern for public safety, officers did not pursue either vehicle after they sped away from separate, attempted traffic stops.

The first attempted traffic stop was of a silver Toyota reported stolen out of Harrison Twp.

Carper said the Toyota nearly struck a police cruiser. The officer tried to stop the vehicle but it sped away and the officer did not pursue.

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Around the same time in a separate incident, police attempted to stop a gray Chrysler for minor traffic violations and it sped away. Carper said the officer did not pursue the Chrysler, which was a rental car with New York license plates.

The two cars collided when the Chrysler, heading north on Ruth Avenue, T-boned the silver Toyota, which was traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on Jerome Avenue, Carper said then.

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UPDATE: Brock Turner’s appeal arguments ‘all lack merit,’ prosecutor says

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 2:17 PM

Brock Turner, seen in a 2017 Greene County Sheriff’s Office sex offender photo. CONTRIBUTED
Brock Turner, seen in a 2017 Greene County Sheriff’s Office sex offender photo. CONTRIBUTED

California’s attorney general responded to Brock Turner’s appeal effort in a filing made public Monday, arguing the Ohio sex offender was not deprived of due process or victim to prosecutorial misconduct during his 2016 trial.

In the 95-page court brief reviewed by the Dayton Daily News, the state’s attorney said Turner’s “claims of error all lack merit” and “could not — separately or together — infringe” on the Oakwood High School graduate’s legal rights.

MORE: Brock Turner’s Dayton Character witnesses key part of appeal

Turner’s new attorney, Eric Multhaup, filed a 172-page appeal in December seeking to clear his client of a conviction stemming from the January 2015 assault of a 22-year-old woman while Turner was a student and swimmer at Stanford University.

The appeal argued Turner was deprived of due process and alleged prosecutorial misconduct — in part by the use of the word “dumpster” in describing the location of the assault — as reasons he should receive a new trial. Multhaup did not respond to a request for comment Monday.  

A jury found Turner guilty on three felony counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person. Turner was sentenced by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky to six months in jail, but served three months of the sentence.

The case — and Turner’s sentence — sparked a nationwide controversy and wide-ranging discussions about sexual assaults on college campuses.

The state argues there was “substantial evidence from which a rational jury could find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all three charges.”

“That evidence included testimony by two independent eyewitnesses who saw appellant ‘thrusting’ on top of the victim half-naked and as she lay unresponsive on the ground,” the state’s brief said.

Turner’s attorney argued his client “was deprived of due process, a fair trial, and his right to present a defense” when the judge restricted testimony from four individuals with Dayton-area ties: Turner’s friend, an ex-girlfriend and two swim coaches.

MORE: Brock Turner’s classmates describe Oakwood party culture

Multhaup argued the court erroneously restricted the testimony of the four “to the trait of sexual non-aggression relevant to his conduct at the time of the offense … and excluded it as to appellant’s honesty and veracity.”

California’s response disputes Multhaup’s claim, arguing Turner’s “reputation for veracity among those who knew and liked him in high school was not the primary, or even a relevant, issue in the case.”

Multhaup also claimed prosecutors “malevolently” used the phrase “behind-the-dumpster” to describe the location of the incident because it implied Turner wanted to shield the incident from view and because “it implied moral depravity, callousness, and culpability on the appellant’s part…”

The state again disputed Multhaup’s claim, arguing Turner himself said the encounter occurred behind a dumpster.

California Deputy Attorney General Alisha Carlile filed the state’s brief Friday in California’s 6th Appellate District Court.

An Oakwood native, Turner is serving a three-year probation. He now lives in Greene County and is a Tier III sex offender, according to Ohio’s sex offender registry. The designation means he is required to register with the county every 90 days.

Read more stories from the Dayton Daily News:

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Ex-Logan County superintendent gets prison in child sex case

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 9:20 AM
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 10:36 AM

            Patrick J. O’Donnell appears in Logan County Common Pleas Court on Monday for his sentencing. Jeff Guerini/Staff
Patrick J. O’Donnell appears in Logan County Common Pleas Court on Monday for his sentencing. Jeff Guerini/Staff

UPDATE @ 10:20 a.m.: Patrick O’Donnell, the former Indian Lake superintendent who pleaded to a count of gross sexual imposition, will spend more than four years in prison.

He was sentenced today to 54 months in prison. He also will have to register as a Tier Two sex offender upon his release from prison.

FIRST POST: The former Indian Lake superintendent who pleaded to a count of gross sexual imposition will be sentenced this morning.

Patrick O’Donnell who was found guilty after entering an Alford plea just before opening arguments in the trial against him were to begin last month.

RELATED: Ex-Logan County superintendent takes plea deal in child sex case

He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He will also have to register as a sex offender for 25 years.

An Alford plea isn’t an admission of guilt, defense attorney Sam Shamansky said, but a plea that accepts its punishment.

O’Donnell had faced 14 child-sex related charges, including rape, gross sexual imposition and sexual battery. He entered the Alford plea to one count of gross sexual imposition and the rest of the charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.


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Middletown man faces 28 charges related to theft from 93-year-old neighbor

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 3:14 PM

            Shawn M. Hill, 29, of Middletown, was indicted on two counts of theft from a person in a protected class and 26 counts of forgery.
Shawn M. Hill, 29, of Middletown, was indicted on two counts of theft from a person in a protected class and 26 counts of forgery.

A 29-year-old Middletown man is accused of forging 26 checks and making cash withdrawals from a 93-year-old neighbor’s account worth $8,500 in late 2015 and early 2016.

A list issued today by the Warren County Prosecutor’s office indicates Shawn M. Hill was indicted on two counts of theft from a person in a protected class and 26 counts of forgery.

MORE: State investigation shows claims against nursing home unsubstantiated

County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Hill also asked to borrow money while awaiting a settlement from a dog-bite case, “providing forged documentation indicating he was going to receive significant settlement proceeds.”

The neighbor loaned him $34,000, only to learn “there never was a dog-bite settlement” and was never repaid, Fornshell added in a text message.

MORE: Elder abuse cases on the rise in Clark County

Fornshell said the loan problem was discovered first, the other allegations later after further investigation.

Hill was free while awaiting arraignment, scheduled for April 6.

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