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. 

 

Comments

sash

Not sure what Department you've trained with? Training that I know teaches firing in double-tap or 2+1 bursts at the center mass until the threat is neutralized. And no, that doesn't mean you shoot to kill, but that you continue firing until the assailant is unable to return fire. No LEO is going to shoot twice and stop while the assailant is still mobile and capable of returning fire. Once neutralized, you secure the weapon and render aide. If you look at the Uniform Crime Report (FBI), you'll find that most police/civilian shootings occur in low light/or night with an average of 10 shots  fired with 20% accuracy(80% miss). I'm sure adrenaline and fear contribute to the number of shots and misses because LEO are human and all the training in the world doesn't make facing the wrong end of a gun easy. This isn't  the same as facing a paper target that doesn't move and can't fire back. I hope you never find yourself in this situation because if you fall into the "averages," neither of your two shots will hit the assailant and he will be returning fire. Maybe you should talk to some officers who have been involved in shootings and get their take on reality vs. book before you pass judgement.

sash

WOW! It's amazing how brave people are when the gun isn't pointed at them! A few points and facts to think about:

1)  There is no evidence AT ALL that Mr. David was asleep on the porch. I understand that his family is trying to make sense of what happened, but it is pure supposition on their part in an attempt to understand their father/ husband's actions that night. It seems  highly unlikely considering he was intimidating a neighbor with his gun minutes before and was probably still experiencing an adrenaline rush from the confrontation.

2)  Most Departments aren't going to pull up with sirens blaring in this kind of situation because it's been shown to exacerbate high stress situations. Lights, sirens and chaos kick adrenaline into high and trigger fight/or flight response. Not the reaction you want when someone has a gun. A calm approach usually produces a calm reaction.

3) The morons expecting officers to shot an arm or a leg instead of a body shot know nothing about law enforcment training or guns. Police officers are NOT trick shot artists. An officer is not going to fire his gun unless they (or others) are in imminent danger. A shot to an arm or leg, in the unlikely event the officer is an Annie Oakley sharp shooter, does NOT stop the assailant from firing his gun! The only time an officer fires is to save his own life or the life of another. This isn't a video game where you get a new life if the bad guy gets a shot off and kills you.

4) 16 shots fired by Officer Lawson and 8 shots fired by Officer Matter sounds excessive only if you know nothing about guns.According to the FBI, a novice shooter can fire 3 shots in LESS than a second with an automatic,and a trained shooter can double that. A revolver is only slightly slower. This entire shooting took place in 3-5 seconds. Once Mr. David raised his gun, the officers had the right and responsibilty to prevent him from pulling the trigger of his gun.

5) While the Register gleefully reported the various body parts struck by the bullets, they failed to note that none of the shots individually would have stopped Mr. David from firing his gun. The only possible guaranteed "stop shot" would have been the chest shot IF it was a heart shot. One second is all that was needed for Mr. David to fire up to three shots. Three shots could easily equal two dead cops.

While this shooting was tragic and my sympathy goes out to Mr. David's family, Mr. David bears the full responsibility for the outcome. If your neighbor makes you angry because they are loud, or obnoxious or doing doughnuts in your front lawn- you pick up the phone and call the police. You don't lubricate your brain with dutch courage and take a loaded gun over to your neighbors to threaten them. And you don't point a gun at anyone unless you plan to shoot and are prepared for the possibility that your victim is armed too. Police Officers take an oath to protect and serve - they do not make a suicide pact. I wonder how many of the "critics" out there would be willing to stand there and let Mr. David try to kill them? We can only be grateful that no kids decided to take a shortcut through his yard that night, or no neighbor decided to approach him to discuss his actions. These officers did what was needed to insure they made it home to their families that night. They have that right and so do their families. They deserve support and understanding, not a misinformed ignorant public passing judgement. And the officers and the community both deserve fair and balanced reporting rather than this sensationalistic garbage!

Judicator

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines

Raoul Duke

How about the renting neighbors that he had the issue with-life goes on like "normal" for them.

Darkhorse

The police officers are poor shots to have fired 24 shorts at this guy.  They need some regular target practice.  You don't need 15 to 24 shots to bring a guy down.

Bottom.line

 Sash, wonderful well thoughout comments. I wish more sane people like!! you would comment. magiclady, we heard you the first time and we still have no idea what you are talking about. julier why not just have the cops wear blinking targets on thier chests? and did you really suggest they called ahead to tell the drunk man with the gun that they were enroute? Plus the place the officers parked was a few houses away from the davids, why move the cars to walk thiry feet? i have nothing against people having opinions, as long as they are logical and reasonable.

Marine Sgt.

 Before I comment I want to state that I have only read the witness statements made public and the statements by both Officers. Although I feel the shooting was just. I do have a problem with just a couple issues. First, the subject had been having problems with his neighbors on another street and that is the direction the officers came from on foot ,in the dark  only with flashlights. I feel that at least one officer should have driven his car around the block to make his presence well known. Second,it wasn`t stated if the officers had their flashlight in the subjects eyes or not.  Third, as a Marine having been in the same situation many times I can say that it doesn`t take 24 shots to bring a person down at close range if you are trained. Even if you are hyped up.   Now to explain what I see....the dead guy had a confrontation with some trouble makers on the next street over earlier in the day.    Now he is sitting on HIS front porch when two guys come up from the same direction as the trouble makers..in the dark...with guns in their hands.  The surround him and blind him with flashlights. The man is half deaf and he hears the guys start yelling at him.  Even if he hadn`t been drinking,who is to say the outcome would have turned out any different?  I am not defending him. I am just putting myself in his shoes. Drinking and guns NEVER go together!!

 Now about the officers actions.  Having done 2 tours on Iraq,this officer should have had better control of his actions. These are very close to the situations we work in every day there. As a Marine,he has  had more extensive training in these situations than most police officers here in the U.S. get.  In my view,the way they went about this situation was just short of an ambush and  the outcome was already in place when they decided to sneak up on the subject the way they did.  These two police officers should have better control of where they are placing their rounds when shooting at someones home. 24 rounds is in my view excessive from such a close range and to have 9 round miss the target means there could have been 9 innocent people killed including children.

 Please don`t get me wrong. I am not defending either side and I not am condeming either side. The whole thing could have been handled differently and a senseless death could have been avoided.   And,between tours,I have worked in law enforcement on the west coast,so I do have a good understanding of how things work and how fast situations can change. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about things.  I feel bad for EVERYBODY involved.  I just hope everybody learns something from this. 

EZOB

   I'm not commenting on this situation but veterans returning from combat.  Studies have proved that upon returning home, combat veterans likely miss that adrenalin rush.  It's like an addictive drug and many veterans have marital problems and problems adapting to civilian life.  I really believe that the last job a combat veteran should apply for is some type of police work.  Shoot first--and answer questions later.

   Now I'll comment.  The guy was on his own front porch.  What "IF" the dispatcher would have called the house to ask if everyone would leave.  Now the guy is on his own front porch, talk to him on a phone, cell phone, bull horn.  Why go up to any armed person knowing they aren't using good judgement??  Keep a safe distance and try talking the guy off the porch and drop the gun.   All this said I wasn't there.  Put me in front of the guy and I would have dropped him also, 12 GA. Double 00 Buckshot.  I would have saved a coupe rounds or had another clip in my hand in case another armed person ran out the door.

dont blame me

So where's the video they speak of ? Why would you present to the grand jury without of ALL the evidence.  And keep in mind the grand jury does not "clear" anyone, they either indict or don't indict based on the evidence they are given or not given.

milan man

First off i agree with many comment on this blog. I cant say what i would have done in the situation. But i can say that with the guy being deaf and seeing two people with flashlights come from the same direction as people he had trouble with would tend to put anyone in a panic state. As far as police go this is sad. I am an a war vet who has seen combat. You fire 24 shots from close range all over the place. How can you consider yourself trained if your that poor of a shot. First thats poor shooting. Glad i can defend myself. second it does not take that many shots. the police could have shot him and allowed a situation where he lived. And most important what if any of the missed shots would have went into a window and killed this mans wife, children or an innocent person.  But of course any investigation with law enforcement would be a cover up. I mean look at the surrounding departments. Bellevue is now in the spotlight. Sandusky has sex offender police officers and cookie crooks. Perkins has all kinds of problems including the ex chief being crooked. What is going on. And they wonder why there is no respect for law enforcement in this area. Please clean house while there is still time.

Judicator

thats alot of bullets

Salvatore

Here is what is written in Cordray's BCI report. I am going to break my comments up into several comments since my comments get deleted so much. Some of you self rightious, know it all, better than thou people don't like my comments and then have my comments deleted and have me banned.  I have read all of the legal summaries and I see a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions. I expect that a civil lawsuit will commence. One thing about telling the truth is that you never have to remember what you said before. Put yourself into Mr.David's position here. From the PROSECUTOR'S SUMMARY. James Armstrong indicated Mr. David was seen brandishing a gun on HIS porch. Armstrong indicated that as he approached the porch of Mr. David, Mr. David cocked his pistol and put it behind his back. Armstrong also indicated that he approached with TWO cars and NUMEROUS people in those cars that had parked in front of Mr. David's home.

This sounds to me like a bunch of thugs trying to intimidate and cause panic to Mr. David. Think about two cars with numerous people parking in front of your home and confronting you. Why wasn't Armstrong charged with at least a inducing panic charge? He admitted that he did this. If Armstrong could take two cars with numerous people to park in front of Mr. David's home. why couldn't police do the same thing and park the squad car with overhead lights turned on or approach Mr. David's porch from down the street with lights, yelps of the siren and even use the load speaker of the squad car? I will post all of the inconsistencies and contradictions of the police officers statements later.

 

silvereagle_1

BOY****don't matter how far your balls drop****don't make ya a MAN****made YOU what's called "nothin' but a MOUTH". 

Raoul Duke

Sad.

man4451

He sure had a QUICK death, ME, I had a massive HEART Attack laid in the ER, not going to say which one, for 9 hours before getting something DONE, massive DAMAGE to the heart, Then A Doctor put a two wire pacemaker in, he said I needed a three wire, but at the time, I didn't know there was a difference between a 3,4,5,6 wire, but the doctor did. Used the ER many times untill a GOOD Doctor took out the TWO wire and the Good doctor put a three wire in, BUT the new doctor says, to much damage done, TO LATE, I may walk up to 50 100 so feet, then sometimes its the Fight for my LIFE, to stay alive. No matter what the good doctors do, its just to much damage. THEN the COUNTY builds  STATION  across the ROAD few yoers ago  and FLOODS my land, I get a LETTER stating I HAVE TO DIG a 450 DiTcH, why should I have to DIG this DITCH, I had no problems untill this BUILDING showed up. My house is completely damaged, it sinks, cracks in the walls, ceiling, joints, pipes cracks at the sweat joints, fec'es comes out of one of the pipes, I fixed many times, it keeps craciking. AND MY leach bed backs up alot when it rains. I recorded DUCKS and Geese in the back yard because of so much rain run off. My window cracked, my heat goes out the roof. Lawyers cost to much. THIS county STOLE my BUCKET LIST, and they could care LESS. Then the COUNTY calls the STATE to dig a ditch to MAKE THINGS WORSE, My HEALTH, I don't see if I'm lucky, a couple more years. EVEN the meds are beginning to NOT work.

THE county engineer knows exactly who I am.

GhostRider

To: mann4451....What does that have to do with this story???     At least YOU are alive to have problems with the city/county.  

Bailey

from SASH's very first post I knew he was some type of law enforcement, always standing by thier buddies who seldom have to be accountable.

In my view it was murder by being DUMB on duty. I don't care if they are decorated vets, all the more reason for the hard core attitude. A normal person would have difficulty returning to work after putting an entire clip into someone, but not these guys. Glad I don't live in that town.

Now, go ahead and trash my beliefs and ignore the fact that these cops were SLOPPY and a man is dead because of it. Two Rambos with guns

unjudgemental

Savatore...it sounds like you really understand what most of Bellevue does as well. Obviously bottom.line and Sash must be cops. Who will defend these "cops" until the end. The concerns you have posted are the tip of the iceburg for most of us here in Bellevue, there aren't too many people who think the cops are justified at all in MURDERING an innocent man who was sitting ON HIS OWN PORCH!! So,...he had a few beers, big deal. And like someone else has stated, they left him lay there for over 6 hours, the whole time the alcohol content rising d/t death. Now people wanna come on here and call him drunk, belligerant and deaf? Like I said earlier, the one cop stated he couldn't even make out what his partner was saying, then when you read the report the officer who supposedly introduced himself was in fact hidden by a tree, in the dark until Jim SUPPOSEDLY got up and went toward the door??? So...how do you clearly identify yourself from behind a tree that blocks your own view of the man? (said himself in the interview with the BCI) ... I guess before people comment they should read the reports/interviews. They have put it right there in black and white...all of the non matching statements and the way the snuck up on him. Which is exactly what they did. They act like he was some crazed man "brandishing" a gun all over the neighborhood...give me a break!!! The punks along with the cops killed this man with NO GOOD REASON!!!  I look forward to reading your following posts...I'm glad someone on here is making some sense!!!

starryeyes83

See... this is why   cops need helmet cams ( or some other kind of video recording device).

 

Isn't it ironic, that  the people in the party house ( SPENCER, ARMSTRONG, JORDAN) that the guy was having trouble with  all moved to Norwalk and Sandusky. Isn't it ironic that about three weeks after this, that same bunch  were busted for driving around Sandusky  and shooting out of a pick up truck.

Makes you wonder....

bye bye Bellevue

Look, when a police officer tells you to drop your weapon, stop etc.   JUST LISTEN people!  I do not fault the cops in any way for their actions. THEY are law enforcement, you are not! This is one of the first lessons we all SHOULD have learned, listen to authority. 

beepx22

yeah because authority is always right, and just.

I mean look at how that worked for the germans in the 30's and 40's, the russians all through the 20th century, the iraqis, the... well you get the point.

America is set up so that we don't have to always listen to authority, that keeps our throats out from under the boot.

Granted if a cop tells you to drop your weapon, you should, just to stay alive, but a trained cop shouldn't pull the trigger 16 times either.

asdferdf

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained profanity. Discussion Guidelines

silvereagle_1

re; beep****ya don't have to pull the trigger 16 times if it's an automatic.

ragtop66

So many comments about what was done wrong, what should have be done, tadatadatada.  The fact of the matter is the only ones who know what actually happened are those that were there. All the comments in the world is not going to change the outcome of this tragedy, and we  are not the ones who have to live with it for the rest of our lives. I'm certain the officers did not go on this call with the intention of killing someone, just as I'm sure Mr. David Sr. did not expect to get killed when he took his gun outside the home.

Cross

Ragtop, the idea here wouldn't be to change the past but to prevent the wild west police shoot down that occured from happening again.

If you shoot a man once, he's pretty likely not to survive. If you shoot a man 15 times with a 40 caliber, he's going to die instantly.

The main point that has been brought up again and again was why were so many shots fired? I and others have law enforcement experience and we are perplexed. We agree that force was justified, but it appears the Bellevue police can't handle a 60 year old man who did not fire a shot without completely unloading both their weapons at point blank range. Any way you slice it, that's excessive force.

They shot the guy through HIS BUTTOCKS. Please explain that to me. Did they fear some bad gas, and had to shoot those last 5 or so bullets EACH to ensure no harm would come from his posterior to them?

You are right, we do not know what happened. It is why we need a camera on officers at all times. They have way too much power and need much more accountability, especially given how many bad eggs there are out there.

 

Truth or Dare

E-X-C-E-S-S-I-V-E;  24 shots fired IN THE DARK @ one man, 15 RIPPING THROUGH HIS BODY and 9 going stray into the porch and house!  Guess it's a pretty darn good thing none of those bullets hit anyone that may of been inside the home?!   Pretty sure however if they had, the BCI wouldn've been able to justify that as well, right?  By the way, who investigates our  Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the FEDS?   

I know one thing, if I lived in Bellevue and needed a police officer for whatever reason, I would exercise my rights and  specify when calling; DO  NOT SEND EITHER ONE OF THESE OFFICERS TO MY HOME, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! 

Still  believe police brutality/excessive force can't exist within law enforcement?  Pick up the Toledo Blade  from Fri. ll/19 for an example right on the front page,  and read about the Sherriff  (elected to his position in the late 80's))  who'se believed to of withheld info. during a Fed. investigation, as well lied about it,   who is arrogantly standing trial for his part in the 2004 cover-up of the  homicide/ murder of a county inmate who was completely shackled/restrained,  yet put into a choke-hold which resulted in his death.  Happened right here in Ohio folks. I guess it was okay though, right?  After all, he managed to find/put himself there for whatever reason, eh, and at their mercy!  

Bottom.line

 I am surely not a cop, and after all the cop hating taking place here i dont know why anyone would want to be. But I am an educated reasonable man, and I do not like people on this blog speaking for all of Belleuve. The only people I have heard saying the police made miistakes fall into oneof three categories. The first group are friends and family of the victim. Right now they are hurt and angry and looking for answers and someone to blame. In time I think they will come to terms with things,at least I pray they will. The second group is the low lifes who have spent a lot of time getting in trouble and never are responible for thier own actions.  They blame the cops for everthing, no matter what. The third group is the monday morning quarter backs who think they could of done it better.  The fact is until you are in that situation how could you know what you would do. I bet these guys have  been on dozens of calls just like this and you have never heard about it. Do you know why? Because they are sucessful at difusing the situation; they are good at thier jobs. As far as the number of shots fired and people telling them to go back to firearms training, i ask you how often you personally have employed that training? My guess is never. You shoot till they fall or the gun is out of the targets reach and you are no longer in danger. I reallyt dont understand the debate anyway, what is the difference if they shot four shots and killed him or shot sixteen shots and killed him? Its the same outcome. So why the outrage? Im sorry for the family, I really am. However I beleive in something called  personal responsibility!

Salvatore

I am reading the transcripts. Matter claims he could not hear the "introduction" of Lawson identifying himself (Lawson) as a police officer but Matter claims to have heard Lawson yell out "drop the gun" after Mr. David turned around and approached Lawson. The transcripts are not clear if the order to "drop the gun" was said once or twice. Reading further I see that Matter says "drop the gun" and then BANG. If Matter could not hear Lawson's introduction as a police officer, how could Mr. David? I question why a so called "independent" investigator like BROKAMP would say "Okay, I'll back ya" to Lawson during the interview. This statement by BROKAMP does not seen "neutral" to me. It sounds to me like BROKAMP is going to help out Lawson during the interview. Also I question the (few words inaudible) by BROKAMP. Lawson stated that Armstrong "is known to be kind of an aggressor".   Lawson stated that he identified himself to Mr. David. "My name is Officer Lawson, Bellevue Police Department, I'm responding to a call of" but later Lawson claims he said "Good evening sir, Officer Lawson, Bellevue Police Department". My question is which introduction by Lawson is correct? Matter claims Lawson yelled "drop the gun" but Lawson says he yelled "Gun" and fired. Who is telling the truth here? I want to add that there are good cops, bad cops and incompetent cops. Later.

beepx22

silver, I don't think a cop would be carrying a glock 18, which is automatic, most police carry the G19, or the .40 cal equiv, which are semi- you obviously don't know much about guns, if he was shooting a G18 then he was over equipped for the job at hand.  so yes unless a G18, or an uzi, he had to pull the trigger 16 times.

even if by some odd chance he did have the G18, he should still know fire control, thats a very basic skill to learn, even for someone who isn't a LEO or Military

Bottom.line

 I see we have moved on the the splitting hairs phase of the investigation. Get a life people, but first tell me did you ask for cream and sugar or sugar and cream in your coffee this morning? You better get it right or I will call you a liar!

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