Autopsy reveals man shot by East Cleveland Police was hit 3 times from back, once in side of chest

Published: May. 24, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s now up to a special prosecutor to decide whether felony charges should be brought against an East Cleveland Police officer who shot and killed a suspect earlier this year.

Hannah Catlett obtained a copy of an autopsy that’s not yet available to the public.

What it reveals, seems to bring more questions than answers.

The report shows exactly where Vincent Belmonte was shot by East Cleveland Police during the foot chase in January.

We talked to East Cleveland council president and mayoral candidate Korean Stevenson about what the report says, too.

“This report clearly shows that this gentleman was shot in the back of the head,” she said. “What it says to me, is that the person was moving away from the police.”

Police said Belmonte was accused in a carjacking and first fled officers in his car and then on foot, before he was shot.

The medical examiner’s autopsy shows four bullets hit him- one to the right posterior or back of the head, one to the back of the forearm, one into the side of the chest and one into the right lower back.

“That brings questions,” Stevenson said.

As we’ve explained in the past, we only have three seconds of body camera footage from the officer who shot Belmonte.

Officer Larry McDonald was given a written reprimand last month for turning off his camera moments before the shooting.

Though there’s no way to verify McDonald’s side of the story for sure, Chief Scott Garner says Belmonte turned around and threatened McDonald with a gun, and that’s when McDonald fired the shots.

“I would be extremely surprised if [the shooting] came back as anything but justified,” Gardner said when we talked to him in March.

In relation to the autopsy, on Monday over email, Garnder said,

There’s still a lot of controversy however, over whether Belmonte pulled the gun out, or if it was in his pocket when EMS arrived.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal investigations was called in to handle the shooting investigation.

19 investigates has now learned that when BCI finished it’s report, the East Cleveland law director turned it over to the state again on May 6th, asking a special, impartial prosecutor to decide if felony charges against McDonald should be filed.

The East Cleveland Police chief tells 19 Investigates that McDonald is back to work, but on modified duty at the station and will be until this matter is completely resolved.

It’s unclear how long the felony review will take prosecutors, but we will certainly let you know when a decision is made.

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