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Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 5:25 PM
— 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:17 PM
XENIA — A 33-year-old Xenia man who evaded capture, which led to a manhunt in Xenia, was taken into custody by Xenia police and the U.S. Marshals.
Charles E. Dameron was arrested Wednesday night without incident, Xenia police Capt. Alonzo Wilson stated tonight in a news release.
Dameron will be facing additional charges as a result of this arrest, Wilson said.
Kazia M. Dehart, 30, who was with Dameron, was arrested on outstanding warrants, police said.
Dameron fled in a vehicle Jan. 5 when Greene County Sheriff’s deputies tried to stop him on U.S. 35 E. He was a suspect in a gun-related incident in Riverside.
Police found the vehicle idling with a child inside on North Richard Drive. Dameron had been baby-sitting the child, who was not hurt.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 3:51 PM
MIDDLETOWN — When the Middletown police chief and two new City Council were having lunch Wednesday on the fourth floor of the City Building, they noticed through a window that it appeared two subjects were climbing a fire escape and entering a window on the upper floors of the former Manchester Inn.
So Chief Rodney Muterspaw, who was meeting with council members Joe Mulligan and Ami Vitori, called police dispatch to report the suspicious activity at the hotel that closed seven years ago.
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As the two suspects were illegally trying to enter the Manchester Inn, the police department’s K-9 team was training along with eight agencies of the Southwest Regional K-9 Training Team at the city’s K-9 training center near the Middletown Regional Airport.
“Bad timing,” Muterspaw said with a laugh. “Real bad.”
Middletown’s K-9 officers Bear, Chase and Koda, along with dogs from the other police agencies, entered the building, said Officer Ryan Morgan, Chase’s handler. Morgan said there were 11 dogs stationed in and around the Manchester Inn.
“Dogs were barking everywhere,” Morgan said.
While Morgan and Chase were on the second floor, Chase, a 4-year-old German shepherd, indicated he smelled human scent, Morgan said. When they found the subjects hiding in a hotel room, Chase “showed force” and the subjects quickly surrendered, Morgan said.
Morgan said there is “no better training than real life scenarios.”
Nicholas Tsakeris, 18, and a juvenile were charged with criminal trespass, police said.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:30 AM
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 6:00 PM
SPRINGFIELD — UPDATE @ 6 p.m.
Charges have been dropped against a juvenile, but an 18-year-old Springfield resident remains accused of shooting a man in the chest last week.
Elrashawn T. Dover, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Sunday in Clark County Municipal Court. His bond was set at $250,000 and a public defender was appointed. He also was ordered to have no contact with the victim, should he post bail.
The victim was stepping out of his car shortly after 2 p.m. Jan. 8 in the 300 block of West Grand Avenue in Springfield. He told police he heard gunfire and then felt a gunshot to his chest, according to court documents.
"He said he grabbed his chest and could see blood on his hand," police say in court records.
The victim's brother then drove him to the Springfield Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for a gunshot wound to the right side of his chest and was expected to recover, police said.
Court records showed the victim identified Dover as the shooter after reviewing a photo lineup.
Dover already was in the Clark County Jail on several unrelated charges.
Springfield police also arrested last week a male juvenile who a witness identified as involved in the shooting and booked him into juvenile detention on an attempted murder charge, according to court records.
Clark County prosecutors requested to dismiss the charges against the teen, which the juvenile judge granted.
"Right now everything is looking and pointing toward (Dover) and we dismissed at this point to give us more time to make sure whether the juvenile is involved or not," Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Merrell said. "We don't know that yet."
Two people, including a juvenile, were arrested and charged with attempted murder in connection to a Jan. 8 shooting on West Grand Avenue in Springfield.
The victim was stepping out of his car in the 300 block of West Grand and heard gunshots and then felt a gunshot to his chest, court documents read.
Last Friday, the victim identified Elrashawn T. Dover, 18, as the person who shot him after reviewing a photo lineup, court records showed.
Police arrested the juvenile the day after the shooting and booked him into juvenile detention.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
LEBANON — A judge today denied a Springboro teacher facing criminal charges in a drug case also involving her son treatment in lieu of conviction during a hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Amy Panzeca, 48, of Springboro, is facing charges of permitting drug abuse, contributing to the unruliness of a minor and endangering children in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Donald Oda II denied the motion for lack of evidence that Panzeca’s alleged drinking problem contributed to her permitting drug abuse in her home.
The case stems from traffic stops last year by Springboro police and a raid last May by the Warren County Drug Task Force of the Panzeca home in the Settlers Walk community in Springboro.
In December, her son, now 16, was sentenced to 30 more days in the local detention center as part of his sentence in Warren County Juvenile Court after pleading no contest to charges of trafficking in drugs and possession of controlled substances.
He got credit for 15 days already spent in detention, but was ordered to complete an in-patient treatment program.
Panzeca is accused of converting her son’s money, including a birthday gift, to Bitcoin, which he used to buy LSD, some of which he sold to about 20 Springboro students.
In December, Oda found an oral motion by Panzeca’s lawyer “to be well-taken, in part” and ordered the long-time teacher be examined.
Her lawyer, Andrea Ostrowski, filed a motion that said: “Drug or alcohol usage by the defendant was a factor leading to the instant offense.”
Offenders granted treatment in lieu of conviction must abstain from drugs and alcohol for 12 months, take part in treatment programs and submit to random testing in order to complete the diversion program. It also can include community service and financial restitution.
If offenders complete the program, the court dismisses the original charges and can potentially seal the records related to the case.
Since August, Panzeca has been free on her own recognizance, pending trial. She had been pressing for the identity of confidential informants in the case and suppression of statements made to police.