Family sue police officer who shot dead two-year-old in standoff
The family of a 2-year-old girl killed in a SWAT shootout with an armed man is suing police in Baxter Springs, Kansas over the child's death.
In March 2022, the Joplin, Missouri police department's SWAT team was deployed to help stop Eli Crawford, a man who shot and killed his wife, Taylor Shutte, and had barricaded himself in a small trailer with his young daughter.
Over the course of three hours Mr Crawford fired at law enforcement officers from the trailer. He fired more than 90 rounds at police officers using multiple guns stored in the trailer, according to The Washington Post.
The standoff ended with both Crawford and his daughter, Clesslynn, dead. An investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation determined that a SWAT officer's bullet was what ultimately killed the toddler. Crawford died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Now the girl's family is suing Cherokee County, the city of Baxter Springs, and the city of Joplin Missouri, as well as an unnamed SWAT officer who fired that round that killed the child. The lawsuit claims that the officers involved were improperly trained and supervised at the scene of the standoff.
The family's lawsuit alleges that the SWAT officer who fired the round that killed the girl was a sniper. The girl was hit in the head.
The lawsuit also claims that Eli Crawford was demanding police allow another family member to come to the trailer to safely escort the girl away. That account conflicts with the city of Joplin's account, which maintains the standoff was a hostage situation.
The KBI investigated the standoff and issued a report in June. It passed those findings onto the Cherokee County attorney's office.
Nathan Coleman, the Cherokee County attorney, said in June he would notify the public once a decision on charges was determined, according to local reporting outlet KOAM News.
The family's lawsuit is seeking damages for Clesslyn's estate and for Carla Crawford, the girl's grandmother.
On the day of the incident, police arrived at Crawford's home to investigate a domestic disturbance report his wife made. When they arrived, he reportedly slammed the door in their faces. Shortly after, the girl reopened the door and her mother ran outside. Crawford shot the woman, killing her, before he began firing at police officers.
Baxter Springs police then requested help from Cherokee County deputies, the Kansas Highway patrol, the KBI, and Joplin's SWAT team.
Crawford spent three hours shooting at police using multiple guns. Around 9:25pm, a Joplin SWAT officer fired a single round at the trailer, which killed the girl.
"This is a horrific outcome to what had already started as a very tragic incident," the Joplin Police Department said in a statement last April. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families involved and the surrounding community."