Lawyers for Wal-Mart shopper slain by police to speak at Maurer

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Lawyers representing the family of an African-American man killed in a police action shooting while he was shopping at an Ohio Wal-Mart store will talk about the case next week at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Michael Wright and Richard Schulte will present “The Ohio Wal-Mart Killing of John Crawford III: A Tragic Police-Action Shooting,” at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 20, in the law school’s Moot Court Room. Crawford, 22, was killed by police in August while he was shopping at a Wal-Mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio.

The event is open to the public and media, and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

According to the law school, Crawford went to the store and saw a BB/pellet rifle for sale. The gun was not in a box or any other type of packaging, and Crawford picked it up. When a customer saw Crawford with what appeared to be a weapon, he called 911 to report an armed subject inside the store.

Crawford was on the phone with the mother of his two children when police arrived. The officers said Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to put down the weapon. Moments later, one of the Beavercreek officers fired two shots, striking and killing Crawford.

The incident was captured on the store’s surveillance cameras, and the footage was released after a grand jury voted against the indictment of either of the two responding police officers. Federal authorities continue to investigate the incident.

In December, Crawford’s family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Beavercreek, the two responding officers, the city’s police chief and Wal-Mart.

“All we want is justice for John Crawford, and everyone responsible for John Crawford’s death should be held responsible,” Wright said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “The criminal justice system refused to hold those accountable so the civil system must.”

Crawford’s death is one of several recent high-profile incidents involving police-related deaths. Four days after Crawford was killed, unarmed teenager Michael Brown was fatally wounded by police in Ferguson, Missouri. In Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice had a pellet gun when he was shot and killed by responding officers. And in New York, Eric Garner died after being restrained around the neck by an officer. His final words – “I can’t breathe” – have become an unofficial rallying cry for protesters demonstrating against excessive police force.

The presentation is being sponsored by the American Constitution Society and Black Law Students Association.


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