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Bellevue police fired 24 shots; 15 struck James David Sr.

Annie Zelm • Nov 21, 2010 at 12:40 AM

Fifteen of 24 bullets fired by two Bellevue police officers struck their intended target on Sept. 22. 

The bullets — fired from .40-caliber and 9 mm handguns — tore through James David Sr.’s jaw, lungs, heart, liver and intestines.

The bullets entered through his cheek, neck, arm, shoulder, chest, abdomen and buttocks, according to a Lucas County autopsy report released Thursday.

The autopsy lists the cause of death as homicide, a ruling that generally applies to a death caused by another person.

Toxicology tests put David’s blood-alcohol level at 0.13 percent, and there were no other substances in his system when he died.

A 99-page investigative report the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, released earlier this week, said the two officers fired their guns as they stood in front of David, at his right and left.

The wounds described in the autopsy report appear to indicate the same.

Officer Erik Lawson and Sgt. Jeffrey Matter approached David to investigate a complaint from neighbors who said David brandished a gun at them after they’d apparently bothered him.

David, 60, was sitting on his Union Street porch with a gun by the time officers arrived. Lawson and Matter approached him in the dark and shined their flashlights on him as they introduced themselves. 

They had their weapons drawn but at their sides, according to the BCI report. Lawson said he used a normal tone to introduce himself, but David jumped up from his chair and began to move toward the front door.

He then turned and pointed his gun at Lawson.

Lawson fired the first shot, and Matter followed suit. Lawson fired a total of 16 shots — emptying his gun of every bullet — while Matter fired eight.

Fifteen shots struck David while the other nine bullets ripped through the porch and parts of the home. 

The BCI report said David had hearing problems, according to testimony from his wife Karen.

Also Thursday, Bellevue police released two transcripts of interviews state investigators conducted with Matter and Lawson just hours after the shooting.

David’s family has said they think he may have fallen asleep on the porch, and the officers might have startled him as they approached in the darkness.

The BCI investigator concluded the two officers did not err in their actions that night.

“Providing no additional statements and/or evidence are presented to BCI & I, there is no other good conclusion than the deputies faced an imminent threat to their safety based on the facts and circumstances present at the time,” special agent Thomas Brokamp wrote in his summary.

A special grand jury convened Tuesday and affirmed the state’s ruling, opting not to charge Lawson or Matter.

Both officers have returned to normal duties. They’d been on desk duty since the shooting.

Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser examined David’s body the day after his death and wrote the autopsy report, while Lucas County coroner James Patrick signed the document on Oct. 29. The autopsy is also time-stamped Nov. 10, apparently after toxicology results were completed to finalize the report.

Click on the PDFs below to read the autopsy report and state investigators' interviews with the two Bellevue police officers. 

Read a previous story and the BCI investigation report here. 

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