FBI digging into Beavercreek Walmart shooting

The new head of the FBI’s Cincinnati division says agents are conducting a thorough review of last year’s fatal police shooting of John Crawford inside the Beavercreek Walmart store.

Angela Byers recently became the division’s special agent in charge. She told The Associated Press that investigators are going through the case “with a fine-tooth comb.” She says that takes a while, so there’s no timetable for completion.

She declined to discuss details.

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Byers says agents are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Federal authorities announced plans for independent review after a grand jury declined to indict police in the Aug. 5 death of 22-year-old John Crawford III. Police said they believed he had a rifle; it was an air rifle.

PREVIOUS REPORT 2/4/15 by Mark Gokavi:

Six months after John Crawford III was fatally shot by a Beavercreek police officer in Walmart, the U.S. Department of Justice continues to review whether or not to file civil rights charges against Officer Sean Williams.

“We’re still waiting for them and hoping that they do something related to … punishing this officer for what happened that evening,” Crawford family attorney Michael Wright said Wednesday. “They do have, from my perspective, what they need to move forward.”

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jennifer Thornton said: “We continue our review of the facts and circumstances.” Thornton declined to reveal the time frame or resources being used in the investigation.

Crawford, 22, of Fairfield, was shot and killed Aug. 5, 2014, by Williams, who responded to the Beavercreek Walmart store after one 911 caller said a black male was waving a rifle at people, including children. Crawford had picked up a BB/pellet rifle from an opened box in the store and walked around with it while talking on the phone.

Beavercreek police said they told Crawford to drop the item before Williams shot Crawford twice. On Sept. 25, Williams was cleared of criminal charges by a Greene County special grand jury of five men and four women.

That group heard from 18 witnesses and then voted against potential charges of murder, reckless homicide and negligent homicide against Williams. At least seven “yes” votes were needed for a charge to be approved. Grand jury votes are not made public.

The federal civil lawsuit filed by Crawford’s parents — Tressa Sherrod and John Crawford Jr. — has not yet been answered in court by Beavercreek police or the Wal-Mart corporation. The defendants filed motions to extend their response deadline to March 9 in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

“(Today) will be six months from the Aug. 5 date when John was shot and killed in Walmart,” Wright said. (The parents are) still grieving. They are still hurt. They’re still questioning why this had to happen. They’re still hurt and upset and they’re helping to care for the two kids that John has left behind.”

Attorneys for Wal-Mart Stores and Beavercreek police Chief Dennis Evers, Sgt. Darkow and Williams — all named in the lawsuit — did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Williams is still using accumulated leave, according to Beavercreek police Capt. Eric Grile. Williams was put on desk duty after the shooting and began using personal time off Sept. 25. Griles has said Williams wouldn’t return to regular duty until the justice department concludes its investigation.

Grile also said that a shooting review board — comprised of a division commander, two patrol officers and two citizens — would start reviewing the case later this month.

Wright said the late Tasha Thomas, who was with Crawford when they entered Walmart, was going to be a witness if the civil case reached trial. Thomas was killed in a New Year’s Day automobile accident: “We don’t know at this point how that’s going to affect the litigation.”

Wright said after the lawsuit answers are filed, he will request information related to police policies, procedures and training and Walmart’s policies about merchandising.

Wright also said Beavercreek police and Walmart also were responsible for the death of Angela Williams, who died of cardiac arrest as she ran through the store after the gunshots. “We would think that they should pursue with something as well,” Wright said.

The Associated Press contributed to these reports.