KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City couple has filed suit against an alleged gun trafficker, manufacturer, and dealer who contributed to the shooting death of their son, Alvino Dwight Crawford, in a 2016 shooting in Kansas City. The gun used to kill Dwight was one of 77 firearms alleged to be trafficked in the Kansas City area by former Kansas City firefighter, James Samuels, who faces federal criminal charges arising from this illegal firearms trafficking scheme. According to documents filed in federal court, other guns allegedly sold by the trafficking ring were recovered as part of criminal investigations in Kansas City and Chicago. The whereabouts of still dozens more of these illegally trafficked guns remain unknown.
“We’ve always known that Kansas City had a gun violence problem, but we never thought it would touch our family,” said Alvino and Beverly Crawford. “We don’t want any other family to go through what we’ve been through. That’s why it is really important for gun dealers and others to pause before they sell a gun and think about the impact of placing a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.”
The Crawfords are being represented by Everytown Law (the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety) and Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman of Kansas City, Missouri.
“Kansas City, Missouri has one of the highest homicide rates in the country, and firearms are used in the vast majority of its murders. But we rarely ask where the guns come from,” said Alla Lefkowitz, deputy director of affirmative litigation for Everytown Law. “This case is about the legal responsibility of all gun dealers and manufacturers not to turn a blind eye to suspicious purchasing behaviors that indicate illegal gun trafficking or straw purchasing. When manufacturers and dealers fail to follow the law, the consequences are predictable and too often deadly.”
According to federal court documents, from 2013-2018, Samuels acted as an unlicensed gun dealer, illegally acquiring firearms and selling them to individuals he knew could not legally possess them. One of the firearms that Samuels illegally trafficked was used to kill the Crawford’s son on July 5, 2016.
Of the 77 firearms allegedly trafficked by Samuels, 57 were manufactured and distributed by Jimenez Arms, including the firearm used to kill the Crawford’s son. According to federal court documents, Jimenez Arms interacted directly with Samuels from 2013-2015, even shipping 11 guns directly to his home. Today’s lawsuit alleges that Jimenez Arms sold those firearms to Samuels despite knowing, or ignoring clear signs, that Samuels was dealing in firearms without a license. The lawsuit also alleges that Jimenez Arms was explicitly put on notice in April 2015 that Samuels was engaging in unauthorized activity, but it took no steps to alert law enforcement.
According to federal court documents, Samuels utilized federally licensed firearms dealers in Kansas City to help camouflage his illegal transactions. Some of these dealers eventually told federal law enforcement that it was obvious that Samuels had been trafficking. Today’s lawsuit alleges that Green Tip Arms, a dealer formerly located in Raytown, Missouri, sold Samuels the weapon used to kill Dwight Crawford, despite having reason to know that Samuels was illegally dealing in firearms without a license.
“By facilitating the distribution of a stream of cheap, disposable guns into the hands of persons previously convicted of felonies and other individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms, each defendant in this action contributed to the problem of gun violence in Kansas City and, specifically, to the chain of events that resulted in Dwight Crawford’s murder,” the complaint states.
In addition to seeking accountability for the son’s murder, Alvino and Beverly Crawford are bringing the lawsuit in hopes of preventing future gun violence in Kansas City and beyond.
Over the past several years, Kansas City, Mo., has had one of the highest homicide-per-capita rates in the United States, generally ranking in the top ten of American cities.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri has charged Samuels with fourteen counts related to his trafficking in firearms. He has pled not guilty; the charges are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.