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

professor

Again...If the threat was there and you feared for your life...How or why would you be charged?

dont blame me

Does anyone really think encountering an armed individual is some new concept for area law enforcement.  In fact, area law enforcement officers have been disarming them peacefully for years, you just hardly read about it because it doesn’t make the news.  How you ask, by using their experience and common sense, something that is lacking in today’s officers.  Unfortunately for the David’s, they are about to experience the results of “POOR” investigation and the good ole boy system of politics.  And to answer your question Salvatore, you’d be indicted.

Salvatore

Professor, How about a bunch of police breaking down your door at night and you fear for your life because you have no idea that they were police. You shoot because you fear for your life. You kill a policeman. You are charged with murder. True story.

Salvatore

Of course I would be charged and in jail with my picture in the newspaper. I would be facing a life sentence.

beepx22

Salvatore, you'd be charged because of excessive deadly force.  We can only shoot to end the threat, if you keep shooting after than it would be a manslaughter charge at the least. or that's the way it seems to go.

of course if your first couple of shots werr a killingshot, thats a different story, but if you emptied the magazine with out a pause in firing,

Julie R.

A special grand jury convened Tuesday and affirmed the state's ruling, opting not to charge Lawson or Matter...........................

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's nine month investigation into the quality of justice in Cuyahoga County. *Part 3: Grand Juries: Gatekeepers or open doors? 

* A grand jury in Ohio determines whether someone should be charged based on the evidence prosecutors present in closed-door hearings. The testimony from police and other witnesses last just minutes.  A grand jury seldom balks at the prosecutor's recommendations. A grand jury is no longer an independent panel but a working arm of the prosecutor's office. Thomas Dilliard, a former U.S. Attorney, is one of the country's top critics of the grand jury system: "The single most important fact to appreciate about the grand jury system is that it is the prosecutor who calls the shots and dominates the entire process. Grand juries have become little more than window dressing."

Woody Hayes

@Juliebeth:

A Cleveland Plain Dealer report on Cuyahoga County Grand Jury has what bearing on Sandusky County Grand Jury? Do you live in Bellevue? (God, I hope not). Do you live in Sandusky County? No, you and the rest of the tin foil hat troop just want to keep banging the drum on a sad situation that had a bad ending. Things went wrong that proably shouldn't have, I agree. But the bottom line is that it did, we can learn from mistakes made and move on.  

Sam

Sally, the best we can do is to agree to disagree.  My sincere hope is that you will never be forced to make the same decision in the same time frame the officers were forced to.

Bottom.line

 It doesnt say he was sleeping anywhere. People looking to make sense of his actions assume he was. I on the otherhand dont buy it. If he was so intimidated moments before then he wouldnt be sleeping he would be viligant. I know some of ya are still up in arms over the number of shots but I can say that I would pull the trigger till i knew the man with the gun wasnt gonna fire it at me. These two have handled many calls like this in the same manner and they always ended peacefully. Mr.David tooke the cw class so he knew what to do, he made bad choices instead.

barkerb23

But why would they shoot 16 TIMES!?!? just shoot his arm + leg and take him down!!!

Salvatore

Bottom.line says "These two have handled many calls like this in the same manner and they always ended peacefully."    MANY CASES? They did? When? Please state your facts. Be specific. Or are you making up the facts as you go along?

Salvatore

In looking for additional information about this shooting, I am reading the Bellevue Gazette. According to the Gazette, "A woman who investigators say was one of the witnesses the night James David Sr. was shot and killed by two Bellevue Police Officers, was sentenced to jail and fined for not meeting with investigators. Spencer has a lengthy record with Bellevue Police. She has been arrested 10 times from 2005-2010 for charges such as theft, domestic violence, trespassing and criminal damaging."  http://www.expositornews.com/BEL/spencer

CANADA49er

 This act was so inhumane. My condolences go out to the family.  This sounds like an act of terror against a normal human being.  I do not think this man was a threat or a terror, but it sure sounds like local law has gotten way out of hand.  What if the dude was waving a cap gun or a squirt gun?  Thats been know to happen!!! Anyways, there was no reason for this act.  It is about time citizens fight for their rights.  There is too much police force anymore, not just here, but everywhere.  This so, so sad.  The dude just retired from a long, hard working life.  Maybe the police should have checked out the neighborhood first ....they could have used other force, not deadly to calm down the situation.  

Salvatore

From the Bellevue Gazette. "The autopsy report indicates the bullets entered through David's check, neck, shoulder, arm, chest, abdomen and buttocks. Toxicology tests put David's blood-alcohol level at 0.13 percent, and there were no other substances in his system when he died. The coroner's report listed, under significant conditions, "acute alcohol intoxication." In the BCI&I report, David's wife, Karen, said she and her husband had visited a club and golf course earlier in the day and he had consumed a few beers, but she did not feel he was intoxicated." http://www.expositornews.com/BEL/autopsy

Also from the same BG story "According to reports, Bellevue Police received a call from a resident in an apartment complex in the 200 block of Greenwood Heights, reporting a man in the neighborhood brandishing a gun at them after AFTER THEY had apparently bothered him."

Also "David's wife told investigators her husband had a hearing problem. 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 dark. The family feels David, who had been APPROACHED EARLIER in the evening by the group who eventually called police, may have thought those people were coming back to cause him harm."       

Somebody please define "acute alcohol intoxication" in terms of BAC. Please note the the human body shortly after death will start to produce ethanol within the body.

starryeyes83

Right,  time to move on and  clean UP Bellevue.  Too much trash  and gangsta thugs starting to move in.   East and West sides ,  North and South sides.  Time to move  run the riff raff out of town.   Because if  it isn't done now,  you will lose that town in the next two to three years.  And it will be just like Sandusky.    Do any of you  Bellevue residents want that?

Julie R.

Once again Woody, stop fiegning ignorance. That Cleveland Plain Dealer report Part 3 about Grand Juries isn't just about Cuyahoga County----it's about the whole state of Ohio. So the next time we hear how a "special grand jury cleared somebody of all charges" what they really mean is the prosecutor's office did.   

Salvatore

Julie posted some very interesting information about grand juries and Thomas Dilliard, a former U.S. Attorney. It a 5 part investigative report about grand juries and how they can be manipulated by the prosecutor. I think that buff once said that a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. So if a prosecutor can indict an individual with little or false evidence, then a prosecutor could hold back evidence from a grand jury so a certain person is not indicted. Window Dressing? http://www.cleveland.com/rule-29/index.ssf/2010/11/presumed_guilty_prosecutions_w_8.html  I love when newspapers do investigative reporting on questionable practices by the government and the courts.

"With no judge or opposing counsel in the room, grand jurors naturally defer to the prosecutor since he is the most knowledgeable official on the scene. Indeed, the single most important fact to appreciate about the grand jury system is that it is the prosecutor who calls the shots and dominates the entire process. The grand jurors have become little more than window dressing." http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-476es.html

""[t]he grand jury is the total captive of the prosecutor, who, if he is candid, will concede that he can indict anybody, at any time, for almost anything before any grand jury."  http://2009transition.org/criminaljustice/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=8 

So if a prosecutor could convince a grand jury to indict an innocent ham sandwich, the prosecutor could also convince a grand jury not to indict certain people. Window Dressing. Or sweeping under the rug?

Woody Hayes

No Juliebeth, the only ignorance is you and the rest of the tin foil hat club beating a dead horse to death. With your history of hatered of courts, judges, attorneys, banks, ect, this story will keep comming up over and over because you don't want it to end. Such a sorry life.

Julie R.

Hey Woody, as I recall you and boonodog were the ones that started it right after I asked a very simple question as to how a grand jury is picked. Didn't you attack calling me ignorant and saying I wear a tin foil hat? Wasn't my fault (but you have to admit it was funny)  that the very next day the Plain Dealer came out with the results of a nine month investigation into the justice system and Part 3 is all about grand juries and how they are not being used the way the Constitution intended.  As the former U.S. Attorney General W. Thomas Dillard said:

"The single most important fact to appreciate about the grand jury system is that it is the prosecutor that calls the shots and dominates the whole process. Grand juries have become little more than window dressing." 

Woody Hayes

Last comment to you because you don't care to listen to anyone but yourself, but it was suggested to you to look up grand jury on Goggle and it would give you an excellent discription of what, who and how of a grand jury, but then again, you know everything so why should I tell you anything. I have a fire hydrant out front, I think I'll go to talk to it. 

dont blame me

Now you guys are starting to get it about grand juries.  The prosecutor is completely in control and the investigators only tell the grand jury what they want them to hear.  Many grand jury members are intimated by the entire process and so most just sit there, say nothing and go along with what is suggested to them by the prosecutor.  Personally I’d like to see a runaway grand jury in cases involving law enforcement officers but that’s not going to happen.         

TOPGUN01

YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THEY MAKE A GOOD COP JOE LEROUX GIVE UP HIS JOB BECAUSE HE KICKED A BAD GUY FOR NOT SHOWING HIS HANDS TO SEE IF HE WAS CARRING A GUN!!!AND THESE COPS EMPTY THERE GUNS ON A MAN??ANDTHEY GET AWAY WITH THIS ??I THINK JOE LEROUX SHOULD RUN FOR CHIEF!!OR SHERIFF!!

Sam

TOPGUN!, Joe LeRoux is a embarrassment to every good law enforcement officer.. You can't justify kicking or in any way assaulting a prone suspect at any time.  I congratulate the officer who turned him in.

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