Death Blamed on Cops Shooting Their Way In
(CN) - Police officers shot their way through an apartment door, killing a man and narrowly missing a sleeping 4-year-old, for no reason, a family claims in Federal Court.
DelShawn Crawford had been spending the night at the Minneapolis apartment of his girlfriend, Brandy Lewis, on May 12, 2012, when the couple's ensuing argument led a neighbor to call the police, according to the complaint in the District of Minnesota.
Crawford had allegedly been holding a knife while arguing with Lewis and her 19-year-old son, but Crawford's family insists that it was all very innocent.
"At no time during the course of the conversation did Mr. Crawford threaten anyone; Mr. Crawford never made verbal threats, nor did he motion to threaten anyone with the knife," the complaint states. "Mr. Crawford simply held the knife in his hands while he was talking."
Crawford had put the knife down and the argument had subsided before police officers Laura Turner and Chad Meyer arrived, according to the complaint.
Crawford's family says the police officers entered without knocking or otherwise announcing their presence.
"In an abhorrently unwarranted and overzealous display of force that proved deadly, and without any warning, notification, or provocation, defendants announced their presence by shooting through the front door and wall of Ms. Lewis' apartment and simultaneously kicking in the front door," the complaint states.
"Defendants' gunfire hit Mr. Crawford, had been standing unarmed in the living room for approximately 15 minutes before defendants arrived and began shooting into the residence. Mr. Crawford posed no threat to the defendants; nor did he pose a threat to any other persons.
"Defendants' gunfire narrowly missed 4-year-old B.L., who was still sleeping on the couch as defendants indiscriminately sprayed gunfire into the home.
"There is no rational justification for any level of force used by defendants, much less lethal force." (Emphasis in original)
Crawford's parents and former wife say the officers and others then proceeded to arrest everybody else in the apartment and questioned them for over three hours.
"Defendants' actions have no semblance of legitimate justification or defense; their brutal and horrific use of force so far exceeded the bounds of law and morality that they immediately began fabricating a version of the evening's events in a desperate attempt to account for their actions," the complaint states.
The family seeks punitive damages for wrongful death as well as excessive force/unreasonable search and seizure. They are represented by J. Ashwin Madia.