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

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.
Annie Zelm
Nov 21, 2010

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. 




I think it's a shame that the cops can be justifiable for their actions even when they are wrong. They wear bullet proof vest why not take the chance to see if they will fire or not before you unload your gun inthem. I say that was excessive force all those bullets, not necessary. what appened to wonding them instead of killing them. It was dark are they sure he pointed his gun at them. The police takes that badge a little bit to serious.. My prayers goes out to the family.


magic lady?  are you nuts or on drugs?  what a stupid comment


Why don't they just issue Uzis to the Bellevue cops?  Then they won't have to reload when they shoot people.

dorothy gale

Wow.  Such a tragic way to show, yet again, that guns, alcohol and anger are a lethal combination and can never lead to a happy outcome.  My heart goes out to ALL involved --- the David family as well as the officers.  So sad. 





 from your comments I have to believe that should have an issue with the police.  Asking if the police had a toxicology tests has to be one of the most ignorant comments I've read. You are the typical person that would make comments never in favor of the police and always in favor of the criminal, I hope you never require law enforcement to assist you, Actually I have to wonder if you would call for assistance because obviously  law enforcement should be drug tested,and Alcohol tested before they come here crime scene.  A+ to you stuped.


In response to the comment "magiclady" made. Are you out of your mind? Let me get this straight, you would have asked the officers to stand there and let someone shoot at them 1st prior to defending themselves? Is that what I am hearing?  Yes they wear body armor but your assuming that #1 the guy will hit them in the armor and #2 it would stop the bullet. No vest is "bullet proof". In your comment you have now said that you expect the police to "take a chance" and let someone take a wild shot at them before defending themselves and speaking of which defending themselves does not equal taking "that badge to serious" .

Matt Damon

<quote> They wear bullet proof vest why not take the chance to see if they will fire or not before you unload your gun inthem.<quote>


This is BY FAR the most ridiculous thing I have ever read on here.


Some people....


I can't believe anyone with common sense would suggest that a police officer should take the chance to see if they will fire or not.  This man pointed a gun at them as they approached.  They told him who they were.  They were called because he threatened someone else with a gun.  Bullet proof vests don't cover the officer's head and a shot to the head would kill them plus bullet proof vests don't always work anyway.  It is unfortunate but people need to realize that alcohol (and drugs) plus handguns do not mix and if you point a gun at an police officer then there will be consequences!


I'm sure glad  I'm not a cop these days.  Because as this comment thread shows, simply by being forced to use a gun, the morons with authority issues will line up and start barking like a bunch of hungry dogs.

    Pepenik99...  Of course you could shoot better drunk.  I know your type.  You can do anything bigger an better than anyone and have to top everybody in every conversation.  That's why you appear in this forum trashing people...because it gives you an outlet to artificially pad your ridiculously low self-esteem.


Magiclady...I think it would be best to keep your opinion to yourself, because quite honestly your comment does not speak well of your intelligence level.  So your way to solve this problem is to let the criminals get off a shot first to see what happens????  Really?!  A vest only protects the torso...not the head.  Not to mention that a shot to the arm or leg can also be fatal if its an artery.  And this whole issue of unloading their clips is stupid.  If one carefully placed bullet is fatal, what's the difference is if they shot 50?  It was dark, it was impossible to see if they were hitting their mark, and it all happened very fast.  One simply does not have enough time to determine if each individual shot was working.  I'd like to see how quickly and calmly you could react if someone were pointing a weapon at you.  And since when does defending yourself from gunfire equate to taking a badge too seriously?  It's people like you that make me feel sorry for cops in these no-win situations.





magiclady ... n/m i dont have anything nice to say. lol.


What sre we, if not
a nation of abusers --
booze and drugs and guns

It does sound like David was startled and confused. I’m not convinced David heard the officer, or knew who was shining the light. Regardless, If you own a handgun, never display it unless you intend to use it. IF the events unfolded as the officers described, they had no choice. 

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained libelous or defamatory statements. Discussion Guidelines

Did anyone see the discrepancies in the two accounts? One says he ran, the other says he walked. The one officer says he was sitting and the other says standing. Nobody even asked what David said to Lawson. I’m sure they wouldn’t have fired if they didn’t feel threatened. I’m not saying they just shot the guy for no reason. But once he was down, they kept firing. I’m not sure how you can even get 16 shots into a guy before he drops. 

24 shots?


Why not one or two shots? I've seen shootouts in California where the cops didn't fire 24 times.

They executed this old guy. Was there really a need for both cops to empty their barrels, when the guy didn't fire a shot back?

I have no doubt they felt scared, but Bellevue police are incompetent or this is a cover up.

It's high time for every cop to have a camera planted on him at all times, so we can review exactly what is happening. They have way too much power and latitude, and need more accountability, especially if they feel the need to fire 20+ shots at an old guy on his own property without a shot being fired back.

Julie R.

24 shots fired, 15 hit Mr. David and the other nine tore through the porch and parts of the home. It's a good thing Mr. David's wife didn't come running out during the gunfire. It's a good thing she wasn't standing in the parts of the home that the bullets went through, too. This is pathetic. Poor guy never even got to enjoy his retirement.


That was the worst piece of journalism I have ever read in my life. "Tore through his intestines" why is that in the paper? What purpose does that serve? He was obviously drunk on his front porch and pissed off at a bunch of complete idiots that had provoked him for some time. He was drunk carrying a weapon and pointed it at and threatened a police officer. The idiots that provoked him ought to be in jail.


Movies make us think the impact of a slug knocks the victim down, but the reality is, not usually, due to physics -- to over-simplify it, there's just not enough energy to do much more than make holes. And the more powerfull the handgun, the harder it is to shoot accurately. The fastest way to drop a subject is a head shot. Next is the heart.

It is my understanding that Israeli police are train to shoot at the head when faced with certain imminent lethal threats.


You know, I'm glad it was the officers who woke him up and not the paper boy collecting for the month or this story would be a lot different.  Good job boys in did a fine job in a tense situation.  I hope you do the same in my neighborhood if someone is sitting intoxicated on their front porch with a gun cocked and loaded.


hmmmm.......what if your son or daughter was on the porch with a water gun in the middle of the night and was startled by two meter maids and jumped up as they told him to drop his gun in a normal tone and then was blown away???? those to mall cops did not know what they were doing and handled this the wrong way......and to put these two back on the streets is terrible.........



How would you have handled it?



lets see.....they knew he had a gun right???????? Y not pull in with your cruiser??????? with the lights on???????? Im sure there would of been a total different outcome.......NO....lets just creep up to him......close enough to talk in a normal tone and blind him with the flash lights..........Does that not make sense zwest????? or should they have just gone in total black ops like it was bin laden sitting on the porch.......maybe thats what was going through lawsons head when fired 16 shots......

dont blame me

Sneaking through the backs yards, startling and blinding a man with a flashlight causing him to lift his arms and then shooting him on his own porch.  The problem, Mr. David is dead and the grand jury does not indict police officers for stupidity or lack of common sense. 


Of course, a drunk guy sitting on his own porch with a gun in such plain sight that neighbors across the way could see it had nothing to do with it.  Talk about stupidity. No one is responsible for their own actions anymore.  Lets just blame it on the cops.  It's a lot easier.


Of course, a drunk guy sitting on his own porch with a gun in such plain sight that neighbors across the way could see it had nothing to do with it.  Talk about stupidity. No one is responsible for their own actions anymore.  Lets just blame it on the cops.  It's a lot easier.


This entire incident is a tragedy, both for the family of the man who died as well as for the cops who shot and killed him. It's entirely possible that David didn't hear it (or hear it accurately) when the police identified themselves. But the bottom line is that he pointed a gun at the police, and when you do that, it's virtually guaranteed that the police at whom the gun is pointed will take pre-emptive action.

Magiclady, you're an idiot. Body armor isn't infallible (you've never heard of armor-piercing ammunition?), nor does it cover you from head to toe. There's not a cop anywhere on any beat that I'd ever suggest wait to see what the bad guy does next before taking action him- or herself. If it was your life the cops were protecting, I'm betting you'd want them to act sooner rather than later, too. But if you're genuinely concerned, why not just not bother to call the cops if you're ever threatened? I mean, wait and see what's going to happen before you get those trigger-happy officers involved, right?

Obviously, terrible things can happen no matter how honest the civilian with a gun or how careful the police may be. Fortunately, incidents like this are rare, and most of the time we'd find ourselves thanking the police for taking a bad guy out of the action.

I wish everyone involved a recovery from that awful night...


SamAdams...didn't you know there is no room for sensibility in this thread?  The cops are evil and  the guy that had the gun is completely innocent and without any responsibility for what happened.  Apparently you didn't get the memo.


This is and was truly a tragedy......but this is the kind of thing that can/does happen when people get a gun to settle problems.  I personally think the tenants in the other property had a fair share in what happened and they should be really proud of themselves.  The way I read it, they seem to delight in aggravating the neighbors and not giving a rat's behind who they bothered.


...Has anyone else read the statements of both cops? Am i reading them wrong??? or are they both kinda different??

And also the statements of the perps from that apartment?? what LOSERS