Grand jury declares officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old legally justified


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Friday discussed the case of a 19-year-old who was shot during an officer-involved shooting involving the East Cleveland Police Department.

Vincent Belmonte was fatally shot by Sgt. Larry McDonald following the chase of a stolen car on Jan. 5.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducted an investigation and a special prosecutor was appointed to decide whether felony charges should be brought against McDonald.

During today’s press conference, Yost explained that a grand jury, made up of citizens of the Cuyahoga County community, considered the case and determined that McDonald was legally justified in his actions that day.

The grand jury has declined to indict the officer and to be as transparent as possible, the complete investigation files were made available here.

“The loss of life is always a tragedy, and especially the death of such a young man,” Yost said. “A grand jury made up of Cuyahoga County citizens determined that Sgt. Larry McDonald acted within the bounds of the law… He performed his duty, protecting the lives of other, innocent people.”

Yost said Officer McDonald could see that Belmonte was allegedly armed and the magazine was visible to him during the on-foot pursuit that happened that day in January in a residential neighborhood.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Anthony Pierson said that after Belmonte allegedly climbed a fence and made it to the other side, McDonald said he saw Belmonte reach for his gun and that’s when McDonald fired four shots, which led to Belmonte’s death.

Pierson said the car Belmonte was driving was reported stolen in October 2020 and the gun that was on him was also reported stolen the day after the officer-involved shooting.

Body cam on another officer was rolling during the initial traffic pursuit but that officer was not near the area where Belmonte climbed the fence and was shot, Pierson explained.

“Transparency requires consistent actions applied over time,” Yost said in a press release. “For officer-involved shooting cases that my office is involved with, the public and media can anticipate that, once legally allowed, we will promptly release all records so that objective truth isn’t lost in the narrative.”  

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