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. 




Re: Cross.....I made a simple comment and opinion. I didn't expect to get racked over the coals for it.  I personally don't think it was very smart of Mr. David Sr., being under the influence, to take a loaded gun outside with the situation such as it was.  If he was having trouble with the tenants on Greenwood, the obvious thing would have been to call the police, not grab a gun.


Ragtop, no doubt and I'm sorry if my post came out antagonistic. Mr David was certainly at fault. That said, from my experience and just from the reports, it looks like the cops used excessive force to me. I wonder if he needed to die?

If the police had driven up with flashing lights and made sure they announced themselves loudly perhaps this could have been avoided. It's certainly easy to monday morning quarterback it after the fact, especially as the gun wasn't pointed at us, but it's right to question when police shoot a man, period.

There is no law against sitting on ones porch with a gun. The cops entered his property. They should have the responsibility to ensure he is completely aware of their presence, and if he makes a threatening move appropriate force should be used. Half drunk wobbling geezers should not require the cops to call in an air strike. :)

Video is cheap. Every cop in America should have a cam on them. It'd also be a great form of money making as half the channels out there seem to show 'Cops' and other shows like that.


re; beep****had no idea what type of guns they had, just made an observation.


 That is incorrect cross, it is 100% illegal to be in possesion of a firearm if you have had a drink,let alone six or seven. Plus you claim to have a tactical background yet you feel they should of announced themselves in the open which is the total opposite of the tactial approach. The thugs across the street may of been obnoxious, but last time I checked the way right way to deal with an obnoxious neighbor did not include getting your gun.


So, you expect SWAT team tactical approaches for neighborhood complaints? Wow.

Common sense says if you know someone has a gun you do the exact opposite, and ensure he knows you are there, and isn't startled. That is unless you want to surprize them and howitzer them down.

I personally find it ironic we treat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan with more respect than we do old retired vets on their own porch.

Forgive me if I have more respect for a man on his own property. They gunned him down on his porch in the dark.


silver... my appologies for jumping the gun there, no pun intended.



I didn't ask for cream or sugar in my coffee. this morning.

I made it myself, with a coffeepot and everything.


Just trying  to lighten the mood a bit.   

P.S.  Remind me to never become a  police officer,  out in the field,  you're always damned if you do and damned if you don't.



Mr. David had six or seven drinks? Where is that information from?

Police Negligence. Think about it. Many cases out there where police used unnecessary deadly force. Many cases out there where police raid the wrong house, kill innocent people and then say it was "unfortunate" that the victim died and then try to blame the victim. Police Negligence. Think about it.
BANG!!!!! OOOPS!!!! UNFORTUNATE!!!  Some of you might think that the guy on the ground deserved to be shot at.

Here's a video where thugs shoot a Texas Trooper. Those thugs should have been shot on the spot. Too bad that this cop didn't have a back up. Police do have a very dangerous job.


That info came from his wife. 


  I don`t know how I would have reacted if I had been having trouble with some thugs on the next street over during the day. Then while sitting on my own front porch,snoozing,I awaken to  have 2 guys dressed in dark outerware ,come out of the dark with guns in their hands,flashlights in my eyes, sneeking up to me. Looking around and NOT seeing any police cars anywhere would have made me think these were NOT good guys coming to visit me and I never would expect the police to come sneeking up in the dark unanounced . Like I said, I wasn`t there and have only read official reports.  With the way the world is now,I am always on guard anyways. And then now reading that the same thugs that started this ordeal moved to Sandusky and Norwalk and have been in trouble involving guns,I tend to think that the old guy wasn`t  over reacting when he sat on his porch with his gun. Another question I have is this..When a crime is commited involving a gun and someone it shot and killed, Isn`t everybody involved charged? Even if it is a bad guy killed? I really think that the thugs who started this whole situation should be charged with SOMETHING. I have a few friends that are cops and have been for a long time. I have a LOT of respect for a cop that does his job with honor and respect for people. A cop that is out there to serve and protect EVERYBODY.  But I hate have NO respect for the jerk that became a cop to be a bad a$$ and give people a hard time. Ones that are only doing it to bust people and show how tuff they THINK they are. Those are the cops that have an against them type of thinking. We all know the cops that fit that description. And we know cops that are good cops that do their job and are fair to EVERYBODY.  No matter who you are,your reputation will come into play some time in your life and that is what makes the differance between having bystanders help you out .or having them join in kicking you down.  I can understand all sides of this issue, and I think  "Marine Sgt." said it the best in his previous post. 


 Show me a cop that doesnt always use a tactical approach on every call and I will bet he will be dead five years into his career. Even when they have simple traffic stops  they have one hand on the weapon on the approach because even that sweet lil old lady they just pulled over could pull a fast one on them. The police cars were less than thirty yards from the shooting, maybe you should look at a map and consider the logic in moving the cars a few feet. What if Mr. David had snapped and was holding his wife or a child hostage? The cops dont know what they are walking into. There was a standoff just a year or so ago where that guy killed his wife and himself. I bet he was a nice guy too, but for some reason he snapped. They did what they had to do. As far as these men getting into police work for a power trip, you got it all wrong. Yeah some on the force did, there are a few on the force who are real full of themselves. These too are far from it. They are good fair men!


I think I understand your point about tactical training and civilian interaction know how. I'll even share a video of how you think it should be.


re; beep**** thanks****in a day and age that people just HATE to admit they may have done or said somethin' wrong, you have renewed my belief in that there are still some good joes out there.


 Cross I do not find anything about your comment amusing. When you question the integrity of two good men who work for peanuts to keep us safe and you make jokes at thier expense I find it sickening. Unless you are ready to lay your life down for the sake of strangers, i would sugesst you not be so quick to judge.


Anytime a man is killed there should be many questions. I suggest you not be so quick to say everything is ok in this case, and analyse things yourself outside of just saying the cops sure have a dangerous job.

A man died, and you say we should be more worried about the cops integrity? No, my friend I disagree wholeheartedly. We need to question whether he had to die and whether what they did was acceptable. The focus should be on did he have to be shot at 24 times? What if it was your Dad there? I think few people are judging, but we are discussing as it should be.

I was poking fun at you because you have yet to address the issue of these cops emptying their guns into a man who never fired a shot, including shooting him through the buttocks. Most people in this thread seem to think excessive force was used. 

When someone is shot in our community it should be evaluated thoroughly. This isn't a speeding ticket, these guys killed this man. I find it funny you bring up their need to lay down their lives for another. Obviously they weren't ready to lay their own lives down, but they sure were in a hurry to lay his down, which is the crux of the problem, not to mention the amount of bullets that went into the house behind him. That sure doesn't seem safe to me!

In my opinion their job is to try and find peaceful resolutions and to serve and protect. If a pair of cops empties their barrel in execution fashion into a man, then they should expect heavy scrutiny from their peers and their town. I personally wouldn't mind if this was looked at from the federal level since it appears the review that took place at the Ohio state level was a joke.

Here is my issue and I'll simplify it even further for you: they shot him in the bottom, Bottom.line. That's my bottom line. 



That BCI investigation is a joke. Read all of the documents that the register provided. Some of you people are posting "facts" that completely differ from the BCI documents of the investigation. Since some you are posting your own facts, then is the BCI investigation a big fairy tale?  That Liske thug who killed his dad, step mom and step brother has a schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Bipolar. According to the BCI investigation report page 20 of the 94 page document, Armstrong is bipolar, can't read or write, received Social Security Disability, takes medications for his mental conditions and does not work. He has also been referred to as an aggressor. That Liske thug was also an aggressor. If that Armstrong thug lived next to me with his aggressive and bipolar nature, I would be carrying my gun with me all of the time. No telling what an aggressive, bipolar thug could do to me. Of course this aggressive, bipolar thug would not like the idea that I am trying to protect myself with my gun just in case he goes ballistic. Armstrong decided to call the cops on me because I am sitting on my porch and the cops sneak up on me. The cops could have called my home or better yet park in front of my home, turn their overhead lights on and give a couple of yelps with their siren or even use the cruiser's loud speaker. Instead, they park far away because they don't want me to know they are there. If it was dark, they would also turn off their headlights while approaching far away because they wanted to sneak up on me and not give me any clues that they were in the area. They sneak up and scare me, yell "GUN" and then BANG! BANG! BANG! .......... It is my fault that I was killed by the police on my own porch. UNFORTUNATE. Anyone can plainly see that here is a good case of POLICE NEGLIGENCE. The thugs get to live another day. Check out the criminal records of those thugs. I feel that a couple of these thugs are posting comments here. Bring it on and attack me or try to get me blocked and banned again.


I know this much bottom line, If i have to use my firearm in self defense, to protect myself, my family, or even strangers, and i fire at once person 16 times (in my case 12 time i suppose to run my weapon empty)  I'm probably losing my gun, my right to CCW, and my freedom, due to excessive deadly force.  If they expect someone with no formal training to fire three times, break off the engagement, check their surroundings, and stay at high ready while they clear the area for other threats, then I don't think it's too much to ask of LEO's to do the same thing.

If i empty my magazine on someone that i've hit in the Head, Chest, Guts, then i've gone too far.

If i do that firing into a house, then I would have no situation awareness.

Bottom line is, even if they where right in shooting, instead of using less lethal means (Taser, Rubber Slugs from the Shotgun most cruisers carry, ect ect.)  They still lost their cool, and some kind of emotion over took their training leading them to fire 24 combined times, and they probably don't need to be on the street beat.

Julie R.

I found it sickening that the cops took the word of a bunch of trouble-making thugs and ended up gunning down a 61-year-old man on his own front porch. I found it sickening that this man was shot 15 times. I found it sickening that 9 of those 24 bullets went through the house and could very well have killed somebody else. 


 sorry, i don't call 68,311.00 peanuts, leastways not in my book.  course i realize that's cheap pay for puttin' your life on the line every day, so don'y everybody get their knickers in a knot an' lambast me on this one.

Truth or Dare

Hey Bottom; Please understand this, this story makes me sick to my stomache!   If my post gave the impression I "hate" cops, don't respect their job,  I apologize as that couldn't be further from the truth.  As for falling within the 3 categories you mentioned, family & friends, being a low-life who'se been arrested,  always in trouble, or an armchair quarterback who thinks they could've done the job better, I would fall into the latter category,  AS WOULD MANY PEOPLE!   We all here seem to have our own opinions, now don't we!  Not only should the public  REASONABLEY QUESTION such things and not be afraid to do so, we have a right and a duty to, do we not?!  Or,  is that just one more right, the questioning of authority and it's actions, or lack-thereof, been taken away?.  You're telling me this situation couldn't of been diffused in a much less VIOLENT MANNER, and is of  no more importance to this family, the Public as a whole in getting it right,  than whether or not someone takes their coffee w/cream n sugar, just cream, just sugar or has it straight up black and ya best get it right?! !  

You speak of being an educated man, of everyone's PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY..    That goes both ways sir!  These two officers will have to live with the fact that they responded/reacted the way they did,  the affects it's  had on Mr. David, his family & friends, you know, those who knew and loved him best,  the community at large, and not just Bellevue!  You don't thinkt that quite a few people have probably lost a whole lotta trust in these two as well others?   Hopefully at some point in time it will be regained!  You  can continue to pretend all you want that mistakes aren't made, justify/explain away all you want the existance of police brutality/excessive force!  That's what they refer too as DENIAL!     "An unjust law, is no law at all"! 

My heart and prayers go  out to Mr. David's family and friends, as well these two officers and their families. 



I am ok with people asking questions and seeking amswers but I am not ok with people cop bashing, or vauge generalzations. Does it really matter if he said good evening vs. hello? I mean either way he annouunced himself. I bet if you survey100 cops about99 of them would do things the same way these two did. There was no malice and no intent on thier part. However i have to wonder what Mr. Davids intent was. To protect himself from lound music with a gun? Its sad all the way around, but these men do not deserve the nastiness being flung at them. 


Sure...he announced himself. From behind a small tree which obstructed his view of the VICTIM (per his own statement) AND ... not even loud enough for his partner to hear what he said (per his partners statement) The distance between the officers being right around 10 feet, kinda hard to believe he made it loud and clear which he also said in the statement that he did. Mr. Matter's interview states that he was pretty sure Mr. David didn't even know he was there. question's our right. To get the truth ... well, that's a different story. 


Intoxicated individual with a gun, a tragedy waiting to happen. My question where was his family, why did they allow his actions, why didn't they do something?  One call from the family to the police might have avoided this tragedy. For all the critics of the police, have you ever faced down an intoxicated suspect?  How many of the critics would sit on their front porch after heavy drinking with a gun?  This was a no win situation.

Julie R.

One simple call from the police to Mr. David's wife might have avoided this tragedy, also. At least then he might have known it was the police standing behind a tree and not the dirt bags coming back to harass him. One would think the police would have wanted to get a handle on what was going on, anyway, before taking the word of some trouble-making thugs and ambushing the poor guy on his own front porch.


Think about this. This is a scenario. I am driving at night in Bellevue and my car breaks down. I have a CCW license and I am carrying my weapon. My car breaks down about half a block from Mr. David's home. I need someone to call a wrecker to have my car towed and no phone available. I can see a man (Mr. David) on the front porch and figure that I would go over and ask him to call a wrecker for me. Now I am completely unaware that Mr. David had problems with two car loads of thugs that stopped in front of his house earlier. I am also unaware that he might have a gun, something that the police were told. As I approach Mr. David's porch, I shine my flashlight at him and say "Good evening sir, my car broke ......." but Mr. David got up and ran for the front door. But he turns around and comes back at me and raises a gun ( as shown in the BCI documents ) but I yell out "GUN" and quickly unload my 17 round 9MM into him. He falls to his knees but I am still shooting, even shooting him in the buttocks. I fired off all 17 shots and did not reload. Mr. David never fired off a round. My question to all you better than thou, know it alls, and always right people and to the legal experts (buff). Will the grand jury bring criminal charges against me such as murder. man slaughter or other charges? I feared for my life, shot and killed a man. Think about it. Will I be charged?

Oy Sam! How many times have the Bellevue PD been made aware of the thugs and "aggressor" Armstrong? If you have answers to this tragedy, please provide them. BTW, would I be charged if I was the one that shot and killed Mr. David?


 Sally, Armstrong might be a thug or aggressor but how does that relate to Mr. David being intoxicated with a gun?   Was there any evidence that Armstrong or any of his friends ever threaten Mr. David with a gun,  if so I never read that fact.  Mr. David choose to be intoxicated and turned towards another person with a gun.  In this situation what would you have done Sally?  The wrong choice on your part makes you the subject of the coroners report.  Its better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. 


If you fear for your life , that threat is legitimate and imminent and you can articulate it, that is clearly self defense.

You have made several comments that Mr. David was sleeping...How do you know that? I cannot find it anywhere in the documents.


its unbelievable that the actual autopsy report has been made public!  how i feel for this family.  Is there not a shred of dignity for this man even in death?  shame on the lucas county coroner for putting information out there, and shame on the register for publishing a link to it.  there are confidentiality standards and the general public does not need access to that information, only the agencies and people involved in the case.  SHAME SHAME


Define intoxicated in terms of BAC. What was Mr. David's BAC at the moment of death? How long did Mr. David's body lay on the porch? How many hours? Do know that when one dies, the body begins to produce ethanol by bacterial action on the sugars in the body such as glucose. If I recall, the autopsy began the next day on a warm body. Thugs do not need a gun to threaten bodily harm to anyone. Bad enough that an aggressive bipolar thug intimidates someone but what do you call two car loads of thugs in front of your house? Many cases where thugs beat people to death or kill without a gun. So Sam, would I be charged as I mentioned earlier?


Professor, I pose the same question to you. Would I be charged if I did the shooting?