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.


Seen it All

@Julie R.  His family can claim WHATEVER they want to in court... "He was mentally challeged"  "He was hard of hearing"  etc.. The FACT IS.....he had a weapon.. he did NOT obey police, and he was killed.. I don't care how many bullets they fired...HE COULD OF BEEN RANDLEMAN, but instead he would of killed 2 LE instead of 1 for all they knew!  THINK ABOUT IT!!! 


Julie R: It doesn't matter whether he wandered around in the park with a gun or not. What MATTERS is that somebody reported a problem and that, when the police arrived, he was on his front porch with a gun that he pointed in their direction.

I appreciate he may have been hard of hearing. I appreciate he may have been worried about neighborhood "thugs." But while you seem to think the police should have CALLED before arriving (really? when do they EVER do that?), I think Mr. David should have been holding his gun somewhere INSIDE the house where he would have had better protection, both physically and legally (it's not a good idea to shoot somebody walking across your yard, but shooting somebody who breaks into your house is another matter entirely).

If Mr. David had used even a modicum of common sense, he'd be alive today. He didn't. The end.

P.S. 15 shots might be "overkill" in hindsight, but I've heard repeated reports from people who have SWORN they only fired a couple of shots but had entirely emptied their clips. Adrenaline does strange things...


 Julie R. This story has nothing to do with Curtis Clinton, there is really no need to bring him up in this news feed. 

A concealed carry license is called a concealed carry license for just that reason, you are to keep the weapon concealed unless your life is immediately in danger. This guy watched Gran Tornio a few too many times or something and thought he was going to handle the neighborhood himself. Whether or not there was an issue with some neighborhood "thugs", it wasn't his place to handle anything. While I'm all for a gun as home protection in the right hands, that's exactly where it belongs, inside the home, in the right hands. This man was on his porch, and at the very least drunk. I wont comment if he was high since I don't know that to be true or not. So there you have him not following the concealed carry law, it wasn't concealed, and you're not to be carrying your weapon if you're drinking. He also clearly wasn't using in a responsible manner for home protection. He was doing nothing more then attempting to be the neightborhood bully. In which case that makes him no better then these punks or thugs that you are commenting about. 

I also don't care where his wife was. When police are called to investigate any complaint. I surely hope they don't take the time to call anybody. I know if I call them for any reason I want them to come and take care of whatever I'm calling them for. I don't want them to wait and make a phone call. 

The last thing that needs to be said is this. Every single police officer has somebody they need to come home for. I don't care if it's their mother, their spouse, their child or their dog. If somebody holds as gun up to any of them. I know I certainly never, never, ever expect them to wait for even a second to wait and see if maybe they are just bluffing. There is no coming back from that choice. If somebody has made the choice to hold up that gun to a member of law enforcement, then not only have they already made their choice but they have also made the decision of the officer. Nobody should ever get a knock on the door because an officer thought they should hesitate and wait. 


 ya don't point a gun at a cop and  expect NOT to get shot.


I'm sorry you don't know the whole story on this. I also wish that you would think before you post things like that. What about his family? Don't you think they read the things people post on here? How would you feel if this was your loved one? It's not as simple as 'he pointed a gun' there is a lot more to the story then that. Not only that, but the cops didn't need to murder that man by unloading clips on him. This family has every right to file a suit on this situation. Justice needs to be served.


My loved one doesn't play with guns. Or Booze. There's been "alot more" to this story for more than 2 years and have yet, to hear anything. Armstrong, he fled Bellevue right after did he not?


Did you chastise other posters for saying the same thing? If you were not an eyewitness you weren't there. The only thing you know is what the family told you.


I have read this story and all the comments and first of all I want to say how sorry I am to the family!  What a horrible way to lose a husband or father.  I feel especially bad if it's true and he was being harrassed by neighbors and was desperate enough to try and protect himself and his property!  With that being said, I feel for the police officers too.  This happened not long after Andy Dunn so the real fear was there.  They had to think of their own lives and their families.  If the man pulled the gun out they had to protect themselves.  What would the story have read if the roles were reversed and he killed one or two officers.  Either way, it would've been a sad story!

Julie R.

If you're a two-bit thug you don't go around and antagonize senior citizens, either. Someday it could be one of you --- in fact, there's a 99% chance someday it will be.

That said --- I'm wondering if the family doesn't want an attorney to represent them or if they couldn't get anybody to take their case? If the latter, I don't know why. Lawyers are right there to take cases for the scum of the earth --- murderers, rapists, and child molesters  --- so why not this one?

@ RUKIDDING:  This story might not be about Clinton but it's about police. So have you heard any of the rumors going around?  


Julie R: If the family couldn't get a lawyer to take their case (and it looks like they couldn't), there's only one reason. Lawyers will, indeed, defend almost anyone (and thank goodness for that!). Many will, indeed, take cases some of us might consider "frivolous." But the one civil suit NO lawyer will take is the one he or she thinks can't be won.

The rulings already made in this case make the civil suit look like a slam-dunk "no win" for the plaintiffs. And since lawyers most often take such suits on a contingency basis, what lawyer would waste time and resources in exchange for...nothing?

Phil Packer

 I also remembered off the top of my head that those neighbors that called the police had been causing problems in the neighborhood, AND that the police came to the house, in the dark, with NO lights on the car, maybe even parked somewhere else so they could sneak up on the proch. If you just had a run in with unruly neighbors and someone in dark clothing walks up out of nowhere to your house and tells you to drop your gun, why would you assume that they were police? That's how I remember the story.  Had the police pulled into the driveway with flashing lights and a spotlight, I'm guessing that this guy doesn't point his gun at them.

But, a lawsuit doesn't bring him back, nor does it make the cops better cops. Just an unfortunate sitiuation...


@JulieR.  I have friends in Bellevue, and your story is the one that most of the people from that neighborhood agree with. I heard (was not there, but HEARD) from someone in the neighborhood that there was an apartment house with a bunch of drug dealers living there. The neighbors (more than Mr. David) had called the police on numerous occasions about the activity and harassment from the apartment dwellers. They had also called the landlord and asked that they be evicted. Nothing was done. When Mr. David went over to the apartment house to ask these people to quiet down (remember the cops or landlord had done nothing to correct the problem) they got into an argument. Mr. David then went home, drank some beers on his front porch and went to sleep. When the people from the apartment reported that Mr. David had a gun, the police came to the apartment house, parked in their drive, walked across the dark back yard, and came upon Mr. David. They had their flashlights on and blinded Mr. David. Someone said that he probably thought it was the troublemakers again and got up to go into the house. Yes, he might have had a gun, but maybe he had been harassed so long that he was going to protect himself. Even if the police had identified themselves, if you are blinded by flashlights and had been bullied for two years or more, would you have really believed it? or would you have wondered if it was the bullys again?

I am repeating what I have heard from people in Bellevue. Like the rest of you posters, I was not there.


@Grandmasgirl, that is what happened. The police parked their car away and used the cover of darkness to get close to Mr. David, used their flashlight to blind Mr. David. Mr. David jumped up and ran for the front door of the porch and then ran back across the porch when he was shot. One of the Murrays should look into this lawsuit.


Mr. David also had his conceal and carry. It was legal for him, and his right to have a gun.


I am surprised by some of the other comments. Since I cannot go back to some of the older Sandusky Register or Norwalk Reflector news stories, these will have to do.

Arrests made in bb gun shootings | Sandusky Register
Oct 8, 2010 – "Bellevue Police arrested James D. Armstrong, 21, of Sandusky, on Sept. 29, for disorderly conduct. Police reports indicate a witness called ...

Bellevue residents worry about neighbor troubles | Sandusky Register
Oct 2, 2010 – "Bellevue Police arrested James D. Armstrong, 21, of Sandusky, on Sept. 29, for disorderly conduct. Police reports indicate a witness called ...

http://www.portclintonnewsherald... James D. Armstrong, Jr., 23, Sandusky, was indicted on one count of breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony, and one misdemeanor count each of possession of criminal tools, attempted theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the report says.

Look up father and son's online criminal records.


I wish that people wouldn't believe everything that they read. They don't publish anyone elses side of the story except for the police. Being as I know the family personally, what is published isn't accurate. This man was MURDERED. What the Bellevue police did was wrong. For those of you on here claiming to know what all happened or offering your opinions without knowing the whole story, shame on you. Look at yourself before you go throwing stones.

called out

BB_2442- And you weren't there either so you have no idea what actually happened that night. What because you are family you think you know what happened , well my guess you are wrong. Point a gun at a cop and get killed simple as that.


Is anybody having problems with this new and improved website? Everything that is supposed to be on the right side like the top comments and ads are all superimposed over the news stories on the left side. I have no problems with the Norwalk Reflector. The problem I am having with the Sandusky Register started a couple of days ago.

Back on topic. I wasn't there to witness the shooting of Mr. David. I do recall some past SR and NR that are no longer available. I am surprised by some comments, especially the ones by SamAdams. If Mr.David was drunk, what was his BAC? What laws did Mr. David break? Why would police believe thug Armstrong? This event could give some thugs in other cities like Sandusky some ideas as in murder by the police.

Part of the Ohio Castle Law states: 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.

The front porch is considered part of the dwelling or residence. Mr. David had the right to be on his front porch with a loaded gun if he feared the thugs from that apartment. What if police shot Mr.David inside of his home? How would his living room be any different than his front porch as stated in the Castle Law?

Shouldn't the police have arrived with the squad car with lights activated in front of Mr. David's home? Did Mr. David ever threaten anyone before? What was Mr. David's past criminal record? What was Armstrong's past criminal record? Why should the police believe Armstrong?

I say that the police were negligent in the death of Mr. David. Police have invaded people's homes in the past and shot dead innocent people. The Bellevue police were negligent in Mr.David's death.


@called out, you stated "Point a gun at a cop and get killed simple as that." Really called out? How about if the police sneak into your home but you have no idea that they are the police? It is dark and police break into your home based on false information. You reach for your gun and you are shot dead. So are you saying that your death would be your own fault? If you shot and killed one of the police officers inside of your own home, you would be charged and convicted of murder. It has happened to others.


If a man with a gun pointed it at you, and you had one as well, you would point it back. And one of you would fire. Thats exactly what happened, but the police officers in this case fired faster. As sad as it is, it is not illegal (cop or not) to shoot someone who is pointing a gun at you. The cops are not going to arrive at a scene where they know a man (drunk or not) has a gun, and flash their lights and turn on their sirens. Talk about a good way to get yourself killed. Would you announce yourself going into a scene where someone had a gun? And would you not defend yourself if someone pointed that gun at you? I pity this mans family and the officers.


I can understand why family members would file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired. According to the Bellevue newspaper, the Ohio BCI investigative 99 page report is lacking in some very important information. Some of you are saying that Mr. David was drunk. What was his BAC? The Ohio BCI 99 page report made no mention of it.

"David’s fam­ily and friends ques­tioned whether police accounts were accu­rate. They con­tended police fired 24 shots and believed David may have been sleep­ing on the porch when police approached him. Neigh­bors of the apart­ment com­plex also told the city coun­cil there had been prob­lems with the res­i­dents at the com­plex for over 12 years.

BCI&I’s report showed the offi­cers dis­charged 24 cas­ings between them, but the did not include how many times David was shot. The 99-page report also did not include a tox­i­col­ogy report, but an inter­view with David’s wife included infor­ma­tion that the man had been hav­ing hear­ing prob­lems. The report also showed that David’s wife, Karen, had made com­plaints about res­i­dents at the Green­wood Heights apart­ments and she had con­tacted the land­lord twice in four days prior to the shoot­ing com­plain­ing about ten­ants. Police records showed that sev­eral res­i­dents of the com­plex had mul­ti­ple arrests for assorted crimes.

At the time, Bran­dal told the Gazette that James David Sr. had no crim­i­nal record and police had no pre­vi­ous com­plaints involv­ing him."


@calledout - it doesn't matter who was there, and how do you know that i wasn't? what matters is that he was murdered and the family deserves justice - just like anyone else who is murdered. there is A LOT more to the story that no one knows and questions that make no sense as to why things were 'handled' the way that they were. sadly, i can't say much more about the situation then that when i'd love to lay it all out for you people that 'think' they know what happened or 'this is why' and for the people that think 'mr. david was in the wrong, no one else' kinds of things. i just wish people would stop acting like they knew what happened when its really the opposite.


A "like" button would be appropriate for this site. Jim David was murdered by police on his own front porch for no good reason. I did know and love this man, he was one of the best men I have ever known. To believe that he pointed a gun at police is impossible. The police snuck up on him in the dark, after he had been being harrassed by neighborhood punks, they didn't pull their cars up to the house with lights and they didn't make themselves visible to him either. If you read the reports and drive by the house you can clearly see that the spot where one officer was standing was behind a tree in the landsape which was big enough to block Mr. Davids view from where he was sitting. One officer got freaked out and yelled "gun" and then started shooting ... the other followed suit. He was murdered, plain and simple. This family was done wrong and this world lost an amazing man all for nothing. I hope to God that this family wins the suit, not because they want the money but to clear Jim's name once and for all. Because all of us who knew him know that the story the cops give is all lies. RIP Jim David ... you will always be missed.