AKRON - Police said a .25 caliber gun was recovered from the scene of a police-involved shooting that did not belong to the officers, along with a bullet casing that matched the caliber of the weapon.
The shooting happened on Orrin Street in Akron about 5:00 p.m. Monday.
Akron Police Chief James Nice said two officers responded in two different cars to a call about suspicious males in the neighborhood. From radio calls released by police on Tuesday, officers were reportedly told the men got out of a white SUV that had a flat tire at Orlando and Orrin.
"It's a typical call that we get at the Akron Police Department that we respond to, so we ended up having two cars respond initially and what we do on those is just talk to the individuals to try and find out what they are doing or if they are up to anything and identify them," said Nice.
Somehow, the call escalated into a confrontation with Raupheal Thomas, 29, of Akron during which, according to the chief, one of the officers first used his taser without any effect.
Nice could not discuss the exact sequence of events that led to the shooting, but radio traffic officers reported that Thomas also fired a shot.
On a recording of the radio traffic, moans can be clearly heard in the background as an officer reports 'shots fired.'
"The suspect, he fired a shot," said an officer. "Ok, the suspect fired; the officer fired back?" asks a dispatcher, after which the officer reports "gun recovered, suspect down."
"We did recover a shell casing from the weapon that the fellow had, so there was a shot fired from the other weapon." Nice told Fox 8, explaining, "It's a fact. It's not something that will change. We did recover a shell casing that was not one of the officer's shell casings and it matched the same caliber as the weapon that was there on scene."
Thomas was taken to a local hospital where he died of a gunshot wound to the torso, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner.
His mother, Sherry Wilkerson, said she did not know exactly what happened, but she described her son as someone who would not have invited trouble.
"Raupheal, my first born son and he's a good kid," said Wilkerson on Tuesday, adding "he's a father; he's a brother, an uncle and we love him."
"He had a flat tire and he called my nephew and said come help me out with a flat tire. They came and the police swarmed around. He helps everybody, everybody that knows him. I called him the godfather because he took care of everybody, you know," said Wilkerson.
Wilkerson told Fox 8 she had not been able to talk with police about what happened and she was trying not to pay attention to the rumors or 'hearsay' about the incident.
She did say she was aware of a video that was taken of the confrontation.
"Someone has a video. Someone taped it and what they said they saw on the tape was them tussling on the ground and him screaming 'help, they trying to kill me, help me they are trying to kill me,'" said Wilkerson.
Nice said the officers' dash cameras did capture the entire confrontation, although the officer and Thomas did go out of view of the camera for a short time before coming back into view.
He said the video was part of an investigation that is being conducted by the department's detective bureau and was not being released to the media.
The officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave as the investigation gets underway.
Nice described them as senior officers with about 15 years service, who would have responded to hundreds, maybe thousands of similar calls during their careers.
"There couldn't be anything more serious than an officer-involved shooting where there is a fatality. It's something that nobody wants. It's something that no officer wants to be involved in. It's a tough situation and we don't like to do that, but they happen in law enforcement. They happen from time to time," said Nice.
"There will be a full investigation and we will come up with a report and what happened matched up to video, matched up to evidence. The prosecutor's office will look at it and will come to a conclusion," he explained.