Slain man's family sues Bellevue police

A Bellevue man's family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and its police department, whose officers shot and killed the man two years ago on his front porch.
Jessica Cuffman
Sep 22, 2012

A Bellevue man's family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and its police department, whose officers shot and killed the man two years ago on his front porch.

The family of James David Sr. filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Thursday, just days before the statute of limitations deadline.

David's wife, Karen, and his children -- James David Jr. and Stacy Thompson -- filed the suit, in which they are representing themselves.

Bellevue police Sgt. Jeffrey Matter and Officer Erik Lawson fatally shot David Sr., 60, on Sept. 22, 2010.

He was sitting on the front porch of his Union Street home with a gun when the officers shot him 15 times.

An Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation probe took the case to a grand jury, which ultimately chose not to indict Matter and Lawson.

Then-Bellevue police Chief Dennis Brandal said the officers shot David only after he pointed a gun at them.

Read more on the suit in Saturday's Register.



Sue sue sue, nevermind that the man had a gun.



I am a bit confused.  I always thought that if you are on your own property not bothering anyone unless YOU call the police they are trespassing.  Was this man just sitting on his porch or is there more to this?  If he was, leave the guy alone.  Guns are legal, remember?  I remember hearing about this but did not follow the story.  It seems like the cops are NEVER wrong.  How is that?  We have all agreed on here that they are HUMAN.  This looks like it happened in a very nice middle class neighborhood which goes to show that anything can happen anywhere.


 So, obviously they searched for two years for a lawyer to take the case and could not find one so now they are representing themselves!

Your case has to be pretty bad, if no lawyer will touch it!

When a cop tells you to "Drop the gun" , you probably should drop it.

Guess they wanna play the hillbilly lottery, anyway. Thats a sad way to honor a loved one.

Julie R.

"Your case has to be pretty bad if no lawyer will touch it."

You couldn't be more wrong on that assumption.


Finding a lawyer to go after the cops is VERY DIFFICULT.


 Yes, deertracker, especially when the OBCI, takes the case to a grand jury, and they found no wrong doing by the police!

The poor cops walked up to a drunk guy, playing neighborhood vigilante, that points a gun at them and refuses to put it down.

Sorry, it's pretty cut and dry.

And...I might add, if my husband was on the porch, with numerous beer cans strewn about, and a loaded gun on his lap.....I would NOT go in and go to bed! That would have been an opportune time to diffuse the situation.

Freedom Writer

 those police officers showed very bad judgement firing blindly into the night and then reloading to do the same. Some people would call them chicken bleeps. I prefer to call them unprofessional at their job. They have no business being police officers with such poor judgement.  They shoot people on their porches but didnt send ANYBODY around to investigate the rash of break ins a few months ago. How they gonna catch the culprits when they didnt even get fingerprints. Police should defuse a situation, not look to ambush.


Seen it All

@ Freedom Writer.. RELOAD?  REALLY?  I can get 15 off of my 9mm!  And I wouldn't have a problem emptying it in a matter of seconds if someone had a gun pointed at me!!


I have been known to be wrong but I know when I've gone to get a copy of a police report ssn and phone numbers are blacked out-so Im wondering is the register going to be sued next for not redacting those peoples phone numbers on copy of the lawsuit posted in a pdf file on here? Call me overly cautious but I SURE wouldnt want my phone number published in the newspaper so some looney can call me-and in todays craziness theres idiots out there that get off making obscene calls just to get their two cents in! At any rate I thought it was illegal to print/release that kind of info even if they (the SR) used a public records search-anybody know whether this is true or not?


If the man was sitting on his porch minding his own business, then the police had no right to tell him to drop his gun.


I have to agree with tk. Those thugs could have been another Randleman or Clinton. The Bellevue police did nothing about Mr. David's concerns about the thugs at that apartment. Does anyone remember Ohio's Castle Doctrine? Mr. David had the right to be on his own front porch with a loaded gun. The police had no right to violate Mr. David's rights.
2901.09 No duty to retreat in residence or vehicle.
A) As used in this section, “residence” and “vehicle” have the same meanings as in section 2901.05 of the Revised Code.

(B) For purposes of any section of the Revised Code that sets forth a criminal offense, a person who lawfully is in that person’s residence has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, and a person who lawfully is an occupant of that person’s vehicle or who lawfully is an occupant in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member of the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another.

2) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof over it and that is designed to be occupied by people lodging in the building or conveyance at night, regardless of whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent or is mobile or immobile. As used in this division, a building or conveyance includes, but is not limited to, an attached PORCH, and a building or conveyance with a roof over it includes, but is not limited to, a tent.

3) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as a guest.



tk says

If the man was sitting on his porch minding his own business, then the police had no right to tell him to drop his gun.



read the last sentence.


Then-Bellevue police Chief Dennis Brandal said the officers shot David only after he pointed a gun at them.


I don't no 

The Whole Story  was he cleaning his gun out? was he drunk?

@PUNKYDUDE,  I read the last sentence but no where did I see that Chief Brandal was there at the time.  He was going by what he was told and we do not know that  he was told the truth.


@tk. Are you kidding me? Those officers probably wake up every day regretting the fact that they took someone else's life. Believe it or not, most cops are not trigger happy and do not want to kill a person. But if a drunk guy pointed a gun at you, would you wait and see if he was going to pull the trigger?


I don't know much at all about the OBCI so I am only asking questions.  This could be a teachable moment.  What can you do on your own property legally?  It is no secret that guns and booze does not mix but was he a threat to someone?  Sometimes a drunk guy on his porch is just that, a drunk guy on his porch.  Home is the best place to be if you are drunk......isn't it?

Darwin's choice

Freedom Writer........great post !


it is unfortunate that the people, his family, that could have defused the situation were absent.  it is pretty simple.  if you point a gun at a cop, blamo!  these were not bad cops!  they were doing their job.  they were called for a disturbance and this is what they found.  let this be a lesson, if you have a family member drunk or high don't let them have a gun no matter where they are!


That still does not explain shooting him fifteen times Mikey!


I just went back and read the original report of the night of the shooting of this man.  Mr David had been causing problems for neighbors.  A Mr Alexander and his brother had called the police because Mr. David  had "eyeballed" them and showed them the gun.  They went back inside their apartment and called the police.  When the police came, they sent them to Mr. David's house. 

Mr. David pulled a gun on the police and the police fired.  THEN his family came home.  They were not present at the time of the shooting.  The cops  thought this man was going to shoot them. 

You NEVER pull a gun on a cop....EVER unless you want to get shot.  and that is what they did, they shot him.  In a heightened anxiety they shot.  Is it overkill....probably, but dead is dead.  From the first heart shot he was shots five six and so on, do not matter.

The family can hardly expect the police to be repsonsible for his death when they leave a man who has alreayd threatened others with a gun, and now the police NOT to shoot.  He was drunk or high on top of that. 

Never ever ever expect the police to stand there and take it.  Are you nuts???? Or just expecting too much?

No, this was the police doing what the police do.  Did this family know he had a gun?  Why did they leave?


@deertracker. The man in this article was walking the neighborhood with the gun in his hand and acting erratically.  The neighbors felt threatened by his behavior and called 911.  When the PD arrived the man was then sitting on his porch.  When the officers approached him to investigate the complaint, the man still had the gun.  The officers asked him to put the gun down, the man ignored them and raised the gun at them.  When he did, the PD shot him. I remember the initial story.  If you were a cop, would you wait for him to shoot you before pulling the trigger?  In these situations, the officer has a fraction of a second to make a decision.  If they take too long then they will likely be killed. I would rather be judged by 12 then carried by 6.  The grand jury heard the evidence and chose not to indict, so apparently they believed it to be self defense. 


This is funny, It will be dismissed rather quickly.

Seen it All

If I remember this story correctly, this man was down at the park, flashing his gun at the local hooligans.  I'm sorry.. but if a police officer tells you to DROP IT .. you should do JUST THAT!  Or end up dead!  This man was drinking and causing havoc on his neighborhood!  Good luck to the family with this pi$$ @$$ lawsuit, as it appears your wasting your time.


Sorry, but I have to agree with most of the posters here.

I'm big on Second Amendment rights, and I firmly believe a healthy exercise of those rights is the ultimate in personal and home protection. But it has never once occurred to me to get drunk and sit on my front porch (or back porch or vehicle) with a gun, loaded or otherwise, in my hands! And when the police have approached me on my property (they've had several occasions to do so), I can tell you it never even BRIEFLY crossed my mind to pick up a gun and point it at them! And if it had, would any of you be shocked and amazed if the police took a pre-emptive shot or two (or 15)?

Tragic? Okay, yes. But frankly, I'm sorrier for the police than I am for the "victim" or the family here. After all, it looks like the police did the right thing given the circumstances of the moment. All the "victim" did was the STUPID thing. He got pretty much what he asked for. I know that's not what the family wants to hear, but it's still true. I suspect the courts will say the same thing, albeit in much prettier words.

To the family: I'm sorry for your loss, but you really need to let this go. This lawsuit is going to do nothing at all but cost money most cities don't have to spare, and rake your loved one's reputation over the coals in the public eye over and over again. Is THAT what you want? Really? Even knowing you're almost certainly going to lose, given the ruiings already made? Let it go so that you can start to move on. You won't know peace until you do...

Julie R.

Where in the world are you people coming up with these stories from? I remember this and Mr. David was NOT walking around the neighborhood or a park with a gun in his hand. He obviously was being antagonized by a bunch of thugs in his own nieghborhood that lived in some scummy apartment building. One of the thug's name was Armstrong. They went over to his house --- obviously to antagonize him some more --- and saw him sitting on the front porch with a gun in his lap and that's when they called the cops. Had the 2-bit punks not gone over to his house to harass a 61-year-old man this would have never happened. Where also did somebody come up with his family wasn't home? That is a bunch of bull. His wife was sleeping when it happened. 

Oh by the way, I've been hearing a lot of rumors about that evil monster Curtis Clinton. I heard before the murders of Heather Jackson and her babies the SPD were called to that registered sex offender's apartment 3 times after midnight ~ once at 1:30 in the morning ~ because of the loud parties going on. I heard there were teen-age girls at those parties and a couple of them were even noticeably pregnant. Anybody else hear those rumors? 


Julie R. remembers what happened. The thug who called the police was James D. Armstrong who was 21 at the time.


Armstrong was also arrested in Sandusky a week or so later, after he fled Bellevue. And Yeah, Mr. David was drunk and pointed a gun at them. 15 times? Well, don't know about that one this for sure is a junk lawsuit.


I hear you guys, I really do but fifteen times?   That's ALOT.  Jus sayn'!

Seen it All

@deertracker.. OVERKILL.. Yes!  But, if your a cop, you get a report of a drunk with a gun, you go to investigate, and instead of him putting it down slowly as ordered... He shows them the weapon, as it pointed directly at them...One fires.. then the other.. and in the panick of NEVER having to fire your weapon in Bellevue.. the finger don't come off the trigger!  In a MATTER OF SECONDS.. he's shot 15 times!!!!!!!!!   I'm SORRY.. but this could of EASILY been avoided IF this so called hard of hearing man (As Julie R claims) wasn't drinking, nor walking around his neighborhood with a  gun!  :)  He was NOT just sitting on his porch all night!



Let's face it, alcohol and guns are a lethal combination. Regardless of where you are at, if you have a gun and a police officer or any law enforcement officer orders you to put it down, you put it down. If you don't then you put yourself at risk of being shot.

Julie R.

As I recall, Mrs. David said her husband was hard of hearing. He might not have even heard the cops announce themselves. What's really disgusting is --- all the cops would have had to do is call Mrs. David when they got the report from a couple of trouble-making punks and this tragedy would have been avoided.