No charges will be filed against Officer Aaron Burnette and the case wasn’t presented to a grand jury.
Video from the officer’s body pack shows him firing his service pistol 16 times into a Pontiac Sunfire.
The officer, a 15-year veteran of the UA force, opened fire after James Genda pulled out what appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol. It turned out the weapon was actually a BB gun.
Genda was pulled over on May 16 along Wolf Ledges Parkway because the license plate on his vehicle was registered to a different vehicle.
On the video, Genda can be heard giving the officer a false name and social security number.
After Burnette told the driver to get out of the car, Genda can be heard saying, “I hate to have to do all this.”
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Burnette “had no choice but to shoot” after Genda pointed the pellet gun.
“Certainly, if we felt that this was a close call or there was any question as to whether or not the officer acted appropriately, we would then send the case to a grand jury. This was very clear cut,” Bevan Walsh said.
Genda was shot several times inside the car and died at the scene.
Burnette was placed on leave following the shooting, but he has returned to active duty with the UA Police Department.
A statement by the university indicated Burnette “is declining interview requests.”
The deadly shooting was also captured by a camera on the side of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles building.
Genda’s daughter, Michelle Harbaugh, told NewsChannel5 in May that her father carried the pellet gun for protection.
“He was mugged a few months back. He said he bought a pellet gun and had it underneath his seat to scare whoever was going to mug him. I don’t think he intentionally got that gun out to shoot anybody,” Harbaugh said.
Bevan Walsh said investigators also received critical information from Genda’s aunt, Beth Pearson. She said Genda indicated to family members that he was never going back to jail, and if he got pulled over, he would force police to shoot him.
“It was a suicide scenario that he talked about and his aunt, after this happened, did contact the police to let them know that this had been his plan well in advance,” Bevan Walsh said.
Ohio law allows an officer to use deadly force when he has reason to believe he is in
danger of serious physical harm or death.
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