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September 2013: Madia Law Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Minneapolis Police

One and a half years ago, DelShawn Crawford Sr. was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officers in his girlfriend’s home.  On behalf of Crawford’s estate, Madia Law has filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against two Minneapolis police officers, Laura Turner and Chad Meyer.  What follows is a summary of the allegations against the police officers in the Complaint filed on September 19 in United States District Court.

KMSP-TV

On May 12, 2012, Delshawn Crawford was spending a “family night” with his girlfriend Brandy Lewis, her children, her children’s friends, and cousins of Ms. Lewis.  At approximately 1:30 AM, following the family gathering, there were still seven individuals in Ms. Lewis’ home.  Mr. Crawford and Ms. Lewis engaged in a verbal argument; Ms. Lewis continued to clean the home while they were arguing.

Upon information and belief, a neighboring tenant is alleged to have called police dispatch and reported hearing commotion at Ms. Lewis’ residence.  During the course of the argument, Mr. Crawford had picked up a knife and was holding it as he continued to talk with Ms. Lewis and A.D.  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. Mr. Crawford simply held the knife in his hands while he was talking.

As Ms. Lewis and Mr. Crawford continued to talk, Lewis told Crawford to put the knife down and to go home and come back when he was sober. Mr. Crawford responded by putting the knife on the dining room table and walking into the living room.  For the next fifteen minutes, Ms. Lewis continued to clean the apartment while Mr. Crawford was located in the living room. Sleeping on the couch in the living room was Ms. Lewis’ 4-year-old cousin, B.L.. The verbal argument between Ms. Lewis and Mr. Crawford subsided.

Upon information and belief, Defendants then arrived at Ms. Lewis’ apartment building and ascended the stairs to the second level, where Ms. Lewis’ apartment is one of two apartments at the top of the stairs.  Neither Defendants nor anyone else verbally notified the people in the Lewis residence of police presence, nor did anyone knock on the door or signal their presence in any non-verbal manner.

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.  Defendants’ gunfire hit Mr. Crawford, who 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.

The moment Defendants began shooting into the apartment and breaking through the door, Ms. Lewis and A.D. ran to the back room, where R.C., P.E., and T.J. had been playing a game.  As Lewis and A.D. ran into the back room, the got their very first indication that the people who had just stormed into the home with gunfire were police, as someone finally yelled, “Police, get on the ground!” Lewis, P.E., A.D., R.C., and T.J. all dropped to the ground, with their faces towards the floor and their hands up and away from their bodies.

Additional officers then entered through a back door and immediately handcuffed R.C., T.J., and Ms. Lewis. Officers then escorted them out the back door of the home.  A.D. and P.E. were also placed in handcuffs, but the two were then escorted out the front door of the apartment, where they walked right by Mr. Crawford’s dead body, which they saw lying perpendicular to the front door.

Once outside, officers then lined up all the people who were inside Ms. Lewis’ residence, where officers held them for approximately 10 minutes before placing each person in a separate squad car.  Police eventually put the 4-year-old B.L. into the same squad as Ms. Lewis.  Police then brought everyone at the Lewis residence to the police department, where Lewis, A.D., and P.E. were each questioned separately for over 3 hours.  At approximately 7:00 AM, officers informed Ms. Lewis that Mr. Crawford had died.

The ability to safely, calmly, and professionally interact with the public without violence is an intrinsic and basic part of law enforcement. In the early morning hours of May 12, 2012, the two Defendant Minneapolis Police Officers showed a complete lack of these essential skills, a blatant disrespect for the laws of the United States, and an abhorrent disregard for civil rights and human life.

In those early morning hours, with absolutely no legitimate justification or defense, Defendants  Turner and  Meyer announced their police presence by spraying gunfire through the front door of a home, narrowly missing a sleeping 4-year-old and killing DelShawn Crawford.

Pursuant to the 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution and Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiffs bring this action against Defendants for violating Mr. Crawford’s rights, including procedural due process, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and the right not to be subjected to excessive and deadly force. Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as statutory fees and attorneys fees.

Also, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 573.02, Plaintiffs bring this action against Defendants for Mr. Crawford’s wrongful death. Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as statutory fees and attorneys fees.