RTA releases video of deadly Cleveland bus shooting, gunman won’t be charged
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Cleveland man has been cleared of a deadly shooting on an RTA bus after prosecutors determined he likely fired in self-defense, citing Ohio’s ‘stand your ground’ law.
David Kittreles, 21, was pronounced dead shortly after officers arrived to the scene of the shooting on Euclid Avenue, near East 30th Street on March 21.
He was found inside the RTA’s Healthline bus.
The shooter, who was previously taken into custody, was released as prosecutors reviewed the case.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office released the following statement to 19 News on Monday:
“Based on Ohio’s Stand Your Ground laws, the State is unable to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooter did not have a fear of serious bodily harm and/or death. Therefore, self-defense does apply, and the State is precluded from pursuing homicide charges.”
The RTA released surveillance footage, which captured the entire altercation.
It shows Kittreles walking down the aisle, toward the back of the bus around 7:20 p.m. He approached a man and woman who were seated beside each other.
The footage also contains audio, and captured a verbal argument before the men starting fighting.
At one point, when the two men separated for a moment, a gun can be seen in the hand of the shooter. Kittreles appeared to reach in the direction of the gun, which led to another scuffle.
Seconds later, a gunshot was heard and Kittreles collapsed to the bus floor.
He was killed instantly.
The shooter exited the bus and ran away; he was eventually found by police after he checked into a nearby hospital for a hand injury.
He was initially taken into custody and booked at the Cuyahoga County jail before being released.
“It’s a game-changer because it shifts the burden back to the state, essentially, to disprove self-defense,” said Cleveland criminal defense attorney Susan Moran, who is not involved in this particular case.
She believes the law, which went into effect in April of last year, will result in fewer murder charges overall due to a reluctance by prosecutors to pursue such charges.
“I think we’re starting to see it,” she told 19 News. “Prosecutors are kind of pressing the pause button, like ‘how am I going to make this case?’ It’s quite an uphill battle for them.”
In April of this year, a woman shot and killed a man outside MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, but prosecutors declined to pursue murder charges, again citing the state law.
The legislation has been met with a great deal of controversy, dating back to preliminary discussions in the state legislature.
Opposition continued after the bill’s passage, and after Gov. Mike DeWine signed it into law in January of 2021.
“I think we are going to see that trend,” Moran said, referring to the divide. “It’s all about who you believe. What party you believe. You’re going to have opposition on the other end.”
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