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. 




Magiclady, when  you "take a chance" on the receiving end of a gun with a bullet proof vest on then you can comment.  Until you do that you have no business to even make a statement like that.


magiclady. Dispite wearing a bullet proof vest an officer is still volnerable. Vests don't protect against shots to the head or extremeities.


Maybe Bellevueboy should become either a police officer or an instructor cause he seems to know exactly how to handle situations such as this.  Websters defines a threat as "Something that is a source of danger".  A man holding a handgun is the textbook definition of this and a small child holding a squirt gun is not. Ever wonder why the started changing the colors of those things? It's so they don't look like real guns and comparing those two senerios is comparing apples to oranges. Legally drunk with a blood alcohol of  0.13. Ever try to talk with someone who is legally intoxicated or try to get them to do what you want? Not easy. Lastly, ever been in a shootout? Ever been in a shootout in the dark? How about this way of thinking, they shot until they believed the threat was no longer a threat. It's dark, little light, the man is armed and he has now pointed a gun and is reported to have threatened to use it in the intial complaint.  I'm sure that after the 1st shot was fired they started to move for a cover spot and could not see (remember it's dark) where the bullets were hitting or not hitting. I have never met a police officer who wants to or ever wishes to use his/her firearm it is the last thing anyone of them wish to do because this is something that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives and police officers every day are faced with knowing that if they use their firearms or do not protect themselves whether with or w/o using a firearm, they will be ridiculed just like these other posts which causes them to hesitate which then causes them to be killed or injured.


bama.......ur saying they handled it correctly??????? so if he was a source of danger........they still should walk up to him in the dark within distance of normal talk???????? i think not........ would they walk into the circle k if the place was being robbed and the 911 call stating there was a gun involved???????? or would they fly into the lot with the sirens and lights??????

So, the officer with two tours of duty; Has he passed mental evaluations lately?   The way a marine responds in Iraq is way different from an average police officer. Not that I’m saying he is, but if Lawson is suffering from any sort of PTSD, his hyper vigilance would have kicked in making him think there was more of a threat that there was. It appears that  the other officer didn’t see everything due to his angle and the weeping cherry.
Jimmy G

Peace through superior fire power!


From some of the comments, it's apparent that not every understands that the term homicide, in the context of the autopsy report. It means the subject was killed by someone, as opposed to death by disease or accident, and in this case it doesn't imply that a crime was committed.


Well, bellevueboy, I am merely saying this. What makes a bigger or well aquired target? 1 standing in the dark or 1 all lighted up with the lights on.  As far as the Circle K comment, what makes better sense to pull in with all the lights on or pull up close enough to walk up, look in and see what is going on prior to taking any action? Lastly would you have preferred for someone to walk up to you talking at a normal tone or whould you rather the conversation start of by someone yelling at you?  It's called escallation. You start off low and depending on the circumstances take it up a notch if need be. It was taken up a notch when this guy pointed a gun at them. Bottomline is I feel sorry for both the officers involved the this guy but fact are facts a gun was pointed at the police and they defended themselves maybe if the officers has been shot you and the others who wished to bash these guys would feel a whole lot better. 


bama.......there is a street......u do know that right?????? not saying to fly in the guys front lawn with the cruiser with sirens and lights and jump out........wether its dark or its daylight.......the approach was way wrong.....and you know it..........and 24 shots were too many.........


I am sure neither one of these officers never, in a million years, ever thought they would be put in the situation they were in, but they did the job the way they were trained to do it. Now, of course, they are being put down by some for doing just that.....their job.   I'm also sure Mr. David Sr. or his family never thought he would be the center of such a situation.  It is/was a horrible, horrible tragedy. Those involved will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.  Would you like to be in their shoes,especially the ones who fired the shots that killed another human being?  Yet, there are those who criticize the way it was handled.  Was there really any "right" way given the circumstances?


i betcha bellevueBOY coulda, woulda done  a whole lot better****after he changed his pants.


silver..................anybody could of done a better job.....maybe even you.........after your balls drop ofcourse....


no matter how you cut it, 24 shots fired at one person is excessive force and neither of the cops should have jobs now.  the fact that these 2 barney fifes are walking the street armed, and obviously too jumpy to be trusted scares the bejesus out of me.


I did not mean that the cops should just stand there and take a shot. Couldn't they of  went at it a different way? why not take cover and than awaken up the man and announced who they were? I'm just saying that some cops are quick to shoot....


What some of you idiots are missing are called FACTS-

1. These officers walked across a well lit street on a night with a full moon, they did not sneak up- although had they done so I would say it was the tactically correct thing to do

2. Mr. David was really drunk, a .08 will get you a DUI so guess how impared you are when your blood ach. level is .13

3. These men are well trained, verteran officers, one is a decorated soilder, and never have the two of them had to fire in the line of duty. They don't exactally qualify as "hot heads" or "mall cops" as one cop hater posted.

4. What if it had not of been the cops, but me and my seven year old son, walking our dog that startled the drunk, deaf, gun welding man on the porch?

5. When you are facing a threat, you shoot to kill- no leg shots, no arm shots, center body mass- end of story. It takes a long time for someone to actually fall down- they were justified in shooting till he fell.

6. The stories of both officers do match up, with only small, insignifigant differences. In a moment of adreniline rush, I imagine some things can be seen differently, but the basics- like the part where the man pointed a loaded weapon at an officer, are the same!

7. As for the genuis that wanted them to be shot because after all they have body armor. WOW, I cannot even validate this comment with an response- except to let you know your "stupid is showing"

8. I can assure you Lawson had to of passed a psych. evaluation, probably annually, with the military- so another mute point!


ya......running and walking.......    they match.......?   lets ask bama to have webster help us with that little fact......just 1 of the things that dont drop the gun and gun.......yet another......


Bottom line, great comments nothing else is needed.  Its nice to see common sense, facts and logic used.


Bellevueboy....You said in one of your posts they should have "pulled in" which would indicate to anyone that you were actually saying that they should have pulled up into this guys driveway. So you say their approach was wrong in fact you went on to say "way wrong", was it really? Like I said in my earlier post you can either become a police officer or start training them so they all know just how they should have handled it or maybe just maybe leave your name and number at the police department and since they cannot get it right according to your standards, they could call you and you can go out and handle the calls with the violent drunks and gun waiving people so no one else gets hurt.


bama........ good thing you caught that....whew.......pulled up to the house/street.........not bad.......deep down you know that no one would have been hurt if they would of done that......just make sense since you say he was a threat and the cops knew that......


Julie R.

On TV they have the cop car lights flashing and spotlights on plus the cops crouch behind the cars and talk through a bullhorn. If Mr. David was hard of hearing maybe even a better solution would have been to call his wife and inform her of the complaint they received or maybe even tell her that they were on their way to the house. I mean, if Mr. David lived in Bellevue all his life they certainly must of known that he was no criminal or anything. Once again, this is parthetic and it all started because of the low-life  trash that was obviously antagonizing the poor guy. Bunch of trash antagonizing somebody old enough to be their grandfather. Evil little dirt bags.


The guy was  pretty drunk  and probably pretty belligerent.   Seems the punks and the booze    got his  macho up too far. 

  It was  he alone that could have changed the actions that night.   In a neighborhood full of kids.  Why in the world would you sit on the front porch with a loaded gun ???..  like it was the  Hatfields and Mc Coys.    Geesh.




Another thing,  how in the he!!   are the cops suppose to know  the guy was hard of hearing??   Unless they personally knew him, well.   Most  60 year old men won't admit to being  hard of hearing.

I didn't know police  were suppose to know those things in advance.


bobaluey it's not illegal to sit on your porch with a gun, or to carry a gun in this state.  you can carry with out a license so long as you can see the weapon, now having your weapon and being drunk is a bad match, but no trained cop, especially one trained in the military should fire a weapon that man times without checking on the situation.  2 or 3 well placed shots at close range would disable the target, emptying your magazine on 1 person leaves you in a bad place when someone else would pop. 

Always apply the rule of +1 with a hostile target, if theres one, then there's two, fire discipline and ammuntion conservation should be a major part of firearms saftey training.

Those two weren't doing proper shooting, they were spray and praying.


bellevueBOY****yer the one spouting about everything that was done wrong****mebbe next time you should be the one ta go take care of a situation.  as for gonads****don't worry about 'em.

bellevueboy i said before..........



You're  correct, it's not illegal.  I never said it was.    But factor in alcohol and it's pretty dangerous.   Not to mention stupid.  Thank God, he didn't shoot a neighbor kid or someone's pet.   All I'm saying is  people need to learn some common sense.    If they had a problem with this party house, why  didn't all the neighbors get together and file formal  complaints with the police, the property owner, the city and METRICH?     Instead of trying  the vigilante justice. 

That said,  I still feel bad for all involved


I just think it's funny people get on here and  makes comments regarding " somone's balls"   and they don't even know for sure    what gender they are. 



I really think that alot of people are truly trying to understand what happened that night. You people (some of you) come on here and act like you know everything. Who are you to call someone an idiot for posting their own opinion? This situation is NOT cut and dried...not for alot of people. Not that it matters to those of you in other towns, or that didn't know this family. The statements plainly say that both cops were basically hiding behind a small tree...neither one could even see him...and sorry, but when your partner is standing less than 10 feet from you and HE can't even hear what you're saying then it's not too far fetched to realize that neither could the man on the porch. The police do a dangerous job, agreed. The police are there to protect and serve, agreed. The police were in fact called there to investigate ... agreed. But that in no way shape or form should have turned into what it did. I believe, as do many residents in Bellevue that the police COULD have identified themselves ALOT better than they did. Again.....NO cop car...NO lights...NO loud announcement of officer presence...come on. The statements from the neighbor says she heard the commotion with the younger kids...that there WAS a disturbance. How was he supposed to know exactly who was coming at him with NO warning....really?? Are you all that blinded to "police wear badges so they must be right all the time" thought process??? I believe it was handled wrongly....and NOONE will ever change my mind. Call me an IDIOT til you use your last breath...I couldn't care less, really.


Somebody please define ACUTE ALCOHOL INTOXICATION in terms of BAC. Years ago one could drive with a BAC of under 0.10%. How many hours was the autopsy after death? The next day? What time of day? That is the question. At death, many changes go on within a body. Shortly after death, the body begins to produce ethanol as a product of decomposition. As the body begins to decompose, bacteria grows and produces ethanol by converting it from sugars in the body such as glucose. Will I get blocked and banned again because of my comments?


24 shots is overkill! In Law Enforcement we are taught "tack tack", that is to fire two rounds as fast as possible. We were never taught to unload our clip, let alone two officers unloading on one suspect. These two may have been justified to shoot, but both need to go back to firearms class!