An Ohio police officer who killed a black Walmart shopper in 2014 for holding a toy rifle did not violate federal civil rights laws, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Officials had been investigating whether Beavercreek Police Officer Sean Williams’ killing of John Crawford III would lead the federal charges. A grand jury had refused to indict Williams and another officer of criminal charges in September 2014.
Crawford was killed that August when a customer called 911 after seeing him play with a toy gun he had picked up while shopping at Walmart. The customer wrongly stated that Crawford was holding an actual rifle and pointing at children.
The Justice Department ultimately concluded that there was not enough evidence of any violation in the case against Williams.
“This investigation revealed that the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Officer Williams violated federal civil rights laws,” the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District Ohio said in a statement. The offices “will not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Officer Williams.”
Crawford’s shooting death was a precursor, with eerie similarities, to the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio just over three months later. Rice had been playing with a pellet gun in November 2014 when two white officers pulled up on him outside a Cleveland recreation center and killed him.