December 19, 2014

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Grand jury rules SWAT Team member took appropriate action in fatal shooting

SWAT TEAM member Wayne Ramsey shot Billy Alexander in the backyard of this Dewitt Street home in Sheffield Township last year. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

SWAT TEAM member Wayne Ramsey shot Billy Alexander in the backyard of this Dewitt Street home in Sheffield Township last year. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — A Lorain County grand jury has cleared a Lorain County SWAT Team member who shot and killed a man during a confrontation in the backyard of a Sheffield Township home during a standoff last year.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said he asked the grand jury to examine the facts surrounding LaGrange police Officer Wayne Ramsey shooting of convicted sex offender Billy Alexander so there would be a public review. He said he typically asks the grand jury to review cases when an officer used deadly force.

“The grand jury clearly found that he acted appropriately under the guidelines,” Will said.

Wayne Ramsey

Wayne Ramsey

Ramsey was among the SWAT members called to Alexander’s Dewitt Street home on Sept. 15, 2012, after he allegedly attacked his wife, Celsa Alexander, and fired a shot as deputies responded to her 911 calls.

Ramsey, who serves as a sniper, told now-retired Lorain police Lt. Mark Carpentiere, who headed up the investigation, that he was heading into the backyard to find a position as the SWAT Team was setting up around the house, where deputies believed the 41-year-old Billy Alexander to be.

Ramsey, who was armed with a sniper rifle in a bag, a holstered .40-caliber pistol and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle in his hands, said he headed toward a dark corner of the backyard and saw a figure, later determined to be Billy Alexander, leaning against a tree.

At first, Ramsey told Carpentiere, he thought the person was a police officer, but then became suspicious of the white jersey the person was wearing. He said he dropped the bag with the sniper rifle and brought up the AR-15.

Alexander turned and put the .38-caliber semiautomatic pistol he was holding to his head. Ramsey said he ordered Alexander several times to drop the gun. Alexander didn’t reply, he said, and stepped into a better-lit area, which allowed Ramsey to see his finger was on the trigger of the pistol.

“You’re gonna have to kill me,” Alexander said as he brought the gun away from his head and pointed it at Ramsey, according to the report.

Ramsey said he fired a single round from the AR-15 at Alexander and believes he hit him in the upper body because of how Alexander turned. But he said Alexander then turned back toward him and leveled the pistol at him while moving closer so the men were 2 to 4 feet apart.

Ramsey said he leaned back and sat on the ground so he would have room to shoot and switched the rifle to a mode that allowed him to fire three-round bursts.

Although Ramsey told Carpentiere that he thinks he fired only a single burst, a check of the number of rounds in the AR-15’s magazine showed that he actually fired 10 shots. Carpentiere wrote that Ramsey likely fired the original single shot before he switched modes on the gun and fired three three-round bursts.

Alexander collapsed to the ground and Ramsey got up and checked to make sure he hadn’t been shot while covering the dying man.

Other police officers quickly arrived and an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper moved the gun away from Alexander’s body.

An autopsy conducted by Chief Deputy County Coroner Frank Miller determined that Alexander had 11 gunshot wounds to his neck, chest, legs and right hand, which was badly damaged. The police report said some of the gunshot wounds may have been caused by the same bullets and Alexander was likely hit by nine or 10 bullets.

Although problems with a gunshot residue test performed on Alexander’s hands made the test unusable, the report said his DNA was found on the pistol recovered from the scene.

Ramsey, who remains on the SWAT Team, declined to comment on the shooting itself, but said he was relieved no one else was injured.

“I’m glad that none of the officers who responded to the incident were hurt and that the officers who entered the residence were able to rescue the family inside,” Ramsey said. “They did an incredible job.”

Police found Billy Alexander’s wedding ring wedged into the branches of the tree he was leaning against before the fatal confrontation with Ramsey.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.