April 18, 2014

Elyria
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Grand jury rules police justified in fatal shooting

Police stand outside the West River Road home of William King on July 15, 2012, after the 50-year-old Elyrian was shot by Elyria officers. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Police stand outside the West River Road home of William King on July 15, 2012, after the 50-year-old Elyrian was shot by Elyria officers. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — The three Elyria police officers who shot and killed William King during a standoff last year will not face criminal charges, a Lorain County grand jury has ruled.

William King

William King

Police surrounded the West River Road North home King shared with his wife, Donna King, minutes after he called 911 just after 5 p.m. on July 15, 2012, and said he had shot his wife and was going to shoot himself.

For the next half-hour, police dispatcher Fran Ross talked by phone with William King, urging him to put his gun down and surrender. Dispatchers also learned that he was alone in the house and Donna King was alive and on her way back from a festival.

Ross wasn’t alone in trying to convince the 50-year-old man to surrender, according to a report on the incident prepared by Lorain County sheriff’s Lt. Donald Barker, who led the investigation.

Officers John Matula III and Jacob Webber told Barker that they were at the southeast corner of the house and that they could see King going in and out of the house. They reported that when he came outside, they would try to talk to him and when he went inside they would take cover behind the house.

Webber said that when he first arrived at the scene, Matula yelled at King to drop his gun, later determined to be an unloaded semiautomatic .25-caliber pistol that would “not reliably fire.” King told them he had messed up but didn’t want to hurt anyone before going back inside.

In total, police estimated that King came outside four or five times during the standoff. Barker wrote in his report that when the house was later searched, officers found a police scanner locked into the Elyria police frequency.

“It is apparent that Mr. King was listening to the Elyria Police Department(’s) radio traffic then would go to the door when he heard information on the scanner that he wanted to respond to,” Barker wrote.

Just before King was shot, he told Ross that he was going to put his gun down.

But Webber, who was armed with an M4 assault rifle, told Barker that when King next appeared in the doorway he was pointing the pistol at his own head.

“Mr. King advised ‘I don’t want to hurt you guys,’ with that Mr. King lowered the hand gun to his chest/stomach area,” Barker wrote Webber told him. “After lowering the gun to his chest/stomach area Mr. King turned his wrist and pointed the gun at Officers Matula and Webber.”

Matula, who was armed with a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, estimated that he and Webber were between 10 and 12 feet away from King when they opened fire. Webber told Barker that he was “scared for his safety and the safety of Officer Matula.”

They weren’t the only officers who fired. Officer Dan Marsico, who was at a window facing King’s home inside a neighboring house, also shot at King after seeing him point a gun at his fellow officers.

“He advised that he fired at nearly the same time Officers Matula and Webber had fired,” Barker wrote.

Barker determined that Marsico fired five rounds, while Matula fired 10 rounds. Both had 13-round magazines in their weapons. It was less clear how many times Webber fired his rifle, Barker wrote, because Webber couldn’t say how many bullets he had in the gun when he pulled the trigger.

Barker estimated that Webber fired seven or eight shots. In total, Barker deduced that the three officers fired no fewer than 15 and no more than 23 rounds at King.

After King was hit, police reported that he fell back into the house and they rushed in and handcuffed him before removing the gun and administering first aid. King’s wounds proved fatal, and he was pronounced dead at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office reported that he died from seven gunshot wounds to his torso and extremities. The autopsy and subsequent tests also revealed that King had been drinking and had antidepressants in his system. Ketamine, an anesthetic, was also found in his system, but medical records indicated that King was administered that drug while medical personnel were trying to save his life.

Barker concluded that King wanted officers to kill him.

“It is reasonable to believe that Mr. King’s intentions were for his own destruction as his weapon was not loaded which he would have reasonably known,” he wrote in his report.

But Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said it was impossible to know if King wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”

“I don’t think it was definitive from the evidence that that’s what occurred,” he said.

King’s family has raised concerns about the shooting, including whether King actually pointed a gun at police. Donna King wrote in an undated letter included with the investigative file released by Will’s office Tuesday that she believes police mistook her husband’s cell phone — which police determined had been hit by a bullet — for a gun.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Elyria Police Dept. murdered my husband in cold blood,” Donna King wrote. “I don’t believe for one second that my husband pointed the gun at them.”

Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely said while he hadn’t reviewed the full report and couldn’t comment on specifics, he was pleased his officers were cleared in the shooting.

“I had confidence in the officers that they acted properly and the grand jury supported that,” Whitely said.

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

  • Mark B

    I dont understand why Street cops took it upon themselves to handle the entire situation. Why was SWAT or a Negotioator called in to talk to King? This possibly could of difused the whole situation. If i remember corectly the police would not even let his wife talk to him on the phone. Not blaming anyone here , just thinik the situation could of been handled better.

    • Spec440

      TV is awesome, isn’t it? Too bad real life doesn’t work that way.

  • zdubb78

    You decrease your chances of being shot by a police officer greatly, If you don’t have a gun and point it at them.
    These officers want to get home to their families and if it takes a crazy guy getting shot to protect themselves…..SO BE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bob Sweatt

      People who weren’t even there will be playing judge and jury about this whole mess.

      If he would have put the gun down and gave up. NONE of this would have happened.

      • Rachel Banhidy

        you weren’t there either you are playing judge and jury as far as some ppl were concerned he wasn’t holding a gun!

        • Bob Sweatt

          HOW DO YOU KNOW???? WERE YOU THERE?????? Did you see everything as it happened??

          I wasn’t there. But I will take the word of polices officers before I take the word of anyone else.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            WERE YOU THERE? DID YOU SEE HIM HOLDING THE GUN WAS MY POINT I WAS TELLING YOU THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE OPINION YOU AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME HE WAS HOLDING A GUN AND REFUSED TO PUT IT DOWN.

          • Bob Sweatt

            Ok if he didn’t want to die that day. Then why did he lie about killing his wife and why did he have the “gun” pointed at his head??

            Did you ever stop to think that maybe his cell phone was in his shirt pocket NOT his hand. Maybe that is why the phone was hit by a bullet.

            AGAIN, THEY FOUND A GUN??? It says so in the police report.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            He was on the phone so how exactly was it in his shirt pocket???? Oh yea I forgot police are always honest and never ever do any wrong….right. He didn’t lie he had just started a new medication and it obviously had given him a bad reaction with another causing him to hallucinate. If he really wanted to die don’t you think he would have been out there yelling at them causing a way bigger scene. So this is what we do with a sick person we shoot them down….there was no one in the house to harm but himself. they didn’t even allow his wife to talk to him. they didn’t call the nord center. And a gun was found in the house no where did it say in his hand. and once again they knew it was unloaded and there was no ammo in the house.

          • Bob Sweatt

            Oh so now you are saying that they knew the gun was unloaded?? Sweetheart if that was the case. Then they never would have fired a shot.

            You tell me to Get a life. Yet you continue to ramble on about something you no nothing about yourself.

  • Rachel Banhidy

    Crazy…really in my opinion if you don’t know the facts you shouldn’t comment. Everything you read in the paper is not correct. He was surrendering…. They shot his cell phone hmmm sounds funny to me….could the rookie cop on the front lines have mistaken it for a gun? Food for thought! And have some respect for the family and shut your mouth. Its ok to have an opinion unnecessary to call names!!!!

    • Bob Sweatt

      So the police report is all lies?? The corner’s report is also lying when it says he had been drinking and had antidepressants in his system??

      They found an unloaded .25 caliber gun. UH I guess you knew that the gun wasn’t load and was unable to fire. Because the police sure didn’t know that was the case.

      • Rachel Banhidy

        For your information they did know. They were told that there was no ammo in the house by someone who lived in the house. But of course that is not listed in the article. And yea a lot of the police report is lies.

        • Rachel Banhidy

          Also you are technically intoxicated after two beers does that make you so out of it you have no clue what is going on I think not.

        • Bob Sweatt

          No ammo in the house. NOT THE GUN..

          Show me proof that the police are lying about a person who has committed assault and has domestic assault on his record?? Public record are so informative. But I am sure all those are lies too

          • Rachel Banhidy

            The last time he was in trouble was in 2001 and you can get charged with domestic violence for simply implying violence. Drug dealers are criminals….this man wasn’t. You are entitled to your opinion as am I. I guarantee I know more about this case than you do. I am not going to sit here and have an argument with you. I was just trying to get across the fact that maybe you shouldn’t say someone deserved to die when you didn’t know them. That’s the problem with this world today no compassion for anyone. So if it makes you feel better to say that then I guess you are one sick individual and you should hope that nothing ever happens to someone you know and then have to sit back and read comments such as yours.

          • Bob Sweatt

            Um First off. I never once said he deserved to die.

            Second. Some one is lying to you. Because the last time he was in trouble was for assault in 2008.

            I’m not sick. You are just angry because I see through your B.S.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            No I am not angry cuz there is no B.S. Really, I could careless about what you have to say…cuz you post on every article on the website. So like I said you are entitled to your opinion so am I. Get a life.

          • Bob Sweatt

            Wow I didn’t know I posted on everything on this website. MMM wish I had that kind of time.

            So you could care less that I am stating fact presented to me. I am not going on what a family member has to say. I am going on what law enforcement and the grand jury have to say. But according to you they all lied.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            You obviously have nothing else better to do or you would not be sitting here picking apart everything I say.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            nobody was even saying anything to you. Since you know everything why don’t you tell me why investigations go to Grand Jury.

          • Bob Sweatt

            You obviously have nothing else better to do or you would not be sitting here picking apart everything I say.

            Says the person doing the same thing.

            But if you aren’t going to comment any better then that, then I guess we are done.

            You are saying that everyone lied. But you aren’t stating facts. Other then that you MIGHT be close to the family and that is were you are getting your information from.

        • Joe Smith

          And being told there was no ammo would be enough for you? And nobody can know all the contents of a house to make a statement like that 100%

          • Rachel Banhidy

            Regardless of that he was a sick man they should have called the Nord Center. His wife wasn’t even home and they knew that. I am sorry this being posted again and all these comments of suicide by cops is not fair to the family. They lost him isn’t that enough. If it were your family, if it were your friend, would you want this crap to continue. You couldn’t sit there and allow all this just go….you would have to say something.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            He was a threat to no one but himself!!!!!

          • Joe Smith

            LOL, so you think that even if they did call the Nord center that they would be allowed near him until he was taken into custody? This would have stopped nothing.
            Being a sick man does not mean an officer has to take a chance to lose his life.

            And if it was my family, I would have had the gun out of the house or in a safe he couldn’t get to knowing he was a sick man as you call it.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            First of all, nothing about this is funny. Second he a reaction to a new medication. Noone could have predicted it. Second as I said before you are entitled to your opinion so am I. Yea I do think it would have made a difference. They should have talked to him not the police. Stand offs go for days when someone has hostages or is a real threat. Not here we shoot our sick. We don’t care about anything but making sure our police department looks good.

          • Joe Smith

            Yes, you are right, your comments are more ridiculous than funny.

            How does his reaction to a new med change anything? If it was an old med it would be ok?

            I noticed in your attempt to blame the police you skipped over the fact the gun was not removed from the house which would have avoided this whole situation from happening in the first place.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            You give your sympathies to the family yet you sit here and keep making comments. MOVE ON DONT CARE WHAT YOUR OPINION IS. I have said on here time and time again you are entitled to your opinion so leave me to mine. Plain and simple.

          • Joe Smith

            My sympathies are for the family but not the person who is here trying to place the blame anywhere but where it belongs

            So you skipped over the gun part again because it does not fit with your anti cop theory.

            And you don’t care what my opinion is yet you can’t resist reading and responding to them, kind of a contradiction don’t you think?

            A lot of the posts here are responses to you, if you really want the posts to stop you would quit posting instigating a response from others.

            Take your own advice and move on yourself or are you going to have yet another contradiction?

          • Rachel Banhidy

            How do you know I’m not family. How do you know I am not a close family friend. You have no Idea. So if it makes you feel like the big man to have the last word you got it.

          • Bob Sweatt

            So you are going on what the family has to say. The family of the man shot by police. Wow the explains alot about what you are saying.

          • Rachel Banhidy

            Continue getting your thrill for the day at someone else’s expense SWEETHEART!!!!!!

          • Joe Smith

            Contradiction #2 .
            While I have my opinion, I made my peace with Jim King the first time this was in the paper through a facebook exchange and he is the one who I am worried about .

          • Rachel Banhidy

            Then why are you sitting here posting negative things about his brother. What about the other family members who are sitting directly infront of me reading what you are saying and think that you are a contradiction yourself.

          • Joe Smith

            Still can’t resist I see.
            The peace with his brother is that I sympathised with him as I also lost my brother but he knows I think a little of the blame goes on the family, all or even most of it? No , but a touch just like it would in ANY family situation, it is the truth in the King family just like it is in mine or yours.
            I also believe the police were justified in what they did. Does it mean that I don’t wish something else happened like he never had the gun in the first place and Jim still had his brother? no again.So no contradiction here.

            If you really care for this family, you would stop the posts as again, a majority of the posts here are responses to your posts. You are the nucleus of the comments here and you are the one who is fanning the flames.

            Think about it.

  • Danyel Hite Bailey

    Why couldn’t they just use rubber bullets?

    • Joe Smith

      Because you can still shoot back when hit with a rubber bullet as it dos not instantly incapacitate you like they do in the movies.

  • Joe Smith

    Sorry to the family of Mr King, but once a person brings a gun out when in a confrontation with police bad things happen.

    I hope he is going to RIP now

    • Bob Sweatt

      It’s pretty funny that when asked to present her facts. Rachel decided to shut up.

      It’s also funny that she seems to think that the facts that I was stating were my opinion.

      Some people just can’t handle the fact that maybe their family member wasn’t the perfect angel they let everyone think they were.

      But Joe you are right. People want to blame everyone else. They can’t put the blame were it belongs.

      • Joe Smith

        I think we should just let it be and the blame is not 100% anywhere. I know Jim seems to be a good guy so I am just going to drop it.

        I was not putting the blame on anyone in particular as it is not my place to do so, I was just stating my opinion that the police did not just shoot for the heck of it, they had reason.

        She seems young and not experienced and is probably lashing out due to being upset and her opinion may change later when she experiences more in life or maybe not.

  • taxpayer89

    Glad the cops finally get credit for a job they are trained in situations like this. Until those who are badge haters are in their situation, don’t judge the police. Good job EPD!!

    • Rachel Banhidy

      Not a badge hater…Just think things could have been handled better.

      • Bob Sweatt

        You’re not a badge hater. But yet you are sitting he saying that they lied about what happened??

        Your right things could have been handle better. Mr. King could have put the gun down and gave up when the police officers told him to.

        Put the blame were it belongs not on the people doing their jobs to protect and serve.

        • Rachel Banhidy

          Im not a badge hater….Just the ones who lie. If there were nothing funny please tell me why it went to Grand Jury right….

  • Rachel Banhidy

    Just reading this knows, including my haters, My comments started out asking for someone not to call someone crazy that you know nothing about and then ppl took it way out of hand. Bottom line my opinion doesn’t matter your opinion doesn’t matter. Have some respect for humanity and leave it alone. Quit being children and having to have the last word. Including myself….I should not have stooped to your level. So if it makes you feel better Joe and Bob you win ok. I am going to do as I was asked and make all this stop. So make your comments and tell me how I can’t resist and call me sweetheart. HAVE A NICE DAY!!!!

  • Donna King

    Okay people, I am Billy King’s wife. Whatever your opinions, please keep them to yourself. Let my husband rest in peace! This family has been though hell for the past yr and a half.