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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: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 8:20 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:46 AM
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield police are investigating after a 79-year-old man was stabbed Tuesday evening.
The incident was reported around 8 p.m. in the 2100 block of Gerald Drive. The victim, who has not been identified, was transported to Miami Valley Hospital.
According to his neighbors, he was alert and talking to medics following the incident, and he said he was stabbed by a relative.
Everyone knows the victim, neighbors said. They described him as a nice man who is quick to help out his neighbors.
According to initial reports, the victim suffered wounds to the chest and leg.
Springfield police Lt. Jeff Williams said detectives were at the scene and that no further information would be released until Wednesday.
The incident remains under investigation and no one is in custody, Williams said.
Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 5:46 AM
DAYTON — UPDATE @5:43 a.m.
An arrest has been made after a man was shot in the head Tuesday evening.
Marcus Antonio White, 21, was arrested in the 200 block of Cherrywood Avenue at 2:37 a.m., according to a Dayton police report and Montgomery County Jail records.
He was booked into jail on a charge of felonious assault.
A man who was shot in the head Tuesday night drove to a Speedway gas station for help.
The victim was shot through his vehicle’s window in the 100 block of Huffman Avenue near Jersey Street. The shooting was reported just before 10 p.m. after the victim drove himself to Speedway, 1556 Huffman Ave., to get help, police said.
According to a 911 call from the store, the victim went into the store and said he was shot while inside his car by another man driving a maroon vehicle.
The victim was taken to Miami Valley Hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening, Dayton police said. His name, age and condition were not immediately available.
Huffman Avenue at South Smithville Road is blocked as police investigate.
Police have not released any suspect information or whether anyone is in custody.
Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 3:21 PM
LEBANON — A Warren County grand jury will review the case against Samuel Ronan, the former political candidate arrested earlier this month after a struggle with Springboro police.
Judge Gary Loxley bound over the case against Ronan, 28, of Springboro, after ruling there was probable cause to indicate he obstructed justice on June 9.
Loxley ruled immediately after a hearing on Tuesday in Warren County Court.
During the hearing, Assistant County Prosecutor Amy Gill and defense lawyer James Calhoun questioned Springboro Sgt. Randy Peagler, the officer who reportedly pulled over Ronan after observing him in a road-rage incident.
Peagler told Gill he followed Ronan for about 0.3 miles after turning on his lights and sirens and that Ronan went back to his car and began walking toward him with a blue bag and his cellphone, flash on and recording for Facebook Live.
Peagler said he hurt his foot and suffered road rash wrestling with Ronan, who recently contested the re-election of Congressman Steve Chabot in the May primary.
Calhoun established that Ronan, a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves, never put his hands on Peagler during the altercation and that Ronan, although permitted to carry a concealed weapon, was apparently unarmed.
Calhoun also emphasized that Ronan said he didn’t see Peagler’s police cruiser until he pulled into the parking lot of his apartment complex and said there was no “overt act” that supported the felony charge.
Calhoun said Ronan was within his rights to ask why he was being arrested before getting on the ground as ordered repeatedly by Peagler, with his gun and then a stun gun drawn.
But Loxley agreed with Gill, who argued Ronan “absolutely” obstructed justice by resisting being taken into custody by Peagler and another officer who assisted in handcuffing him.
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 1:23 PM
SPRINGBORO — A former political candidate was released from the Warren County jail today on his own recognizance in a case also prompting a press release from Springboro police.
A police report released today shows the incident resulting in the arrest of Samuel Ronan, 28, of Springboro began after a patrolman observed as a “road rage incident between two vehicles.” It also indicates dispatch advised the patrolman that Ronan had a “concealed weapon license” and that Ronan began recording with his cellphone as he exited his car also carrying “a medium-size blue bag in his left hand.”
The report indicates Ronan was arrested after a struggle with police in a parking lot near his home.
Court records indicate that during today’s arraignment, Judge Gary Loxley set a trial for for June 19 on charges Ronan resisted arrest and failed to comply with the order of a Springboro police officer early Saturday.
Loxley also scheduled at the same time on June 19 a preliminary hearing on a charge of obstructing official business, a fifth-degree felony.
Ronan’s case was referred to the public defender, although he is employed and a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves, according to a docket entry in Warren County Court.
However, Ronan might not be able to afford a lawyer, prompting the court to assign it to the public defender, according to the entry filed after his appearance via video link between the jail and court in Lebanon.
Also today, Springboro police issued a press release concerning the case.
“Mr. Ronan was observed, by a Springboro police officer, operating his vehicle in an unsafe manner. The Springboro police officer attempted to stop Mr. Ronan, for the traffic violation, by activating his overhead lights. Mr. Ronan ignored this signal to stop and continued to drive. The Springboro officer then activated his siren. Mr. Ronan ignored this attempt to stop him and continued to drive. Mr. Ronan then led the Springboro police officer on a brief pursuit, turning into an apartment complex.
“Mr. Ronan stops his vehicle and immediately exits. Mr. Ronan refuses to comply with verbal commands and is reaching into his pocket. Mr. Ronan then points an object at the Springboro officer, which is in his right hand. Mr. Ronan continues to ignore verbal commands and begins walking toward the officer. Mr. Ronan is taken into custody and charged with failure to comply with order or signal of police officer, obstructing official business and resisting arrest.
“The Springboro Division of Police is aware a small portion of this encounter has received significant exposure on social media. While some of the exposure has been negative, we would like to convey our appreciation to many of our residents and those who have expressed their support of the division until ALL facts are reviewed and decided in a court hearing to be held at a later time,” a press release issued by Lt. Dan Bentley said.
Locally, Ronan ran against Congressman Steve Chabot in the May Republican primary, and two years ago as a Democrat, he contested the election of State Rep. Scott Lipps.
Ronan also ran for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2017 and gained attention in appearances on CNN.