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Activists demand action after East Cleveland police body cam shut off before deadly shooting

Calling for police sergeant to be fired
East Cleveland deadly shooting activists
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 19:23:07-05

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Activists gathered outside East Cleveland City Hall on Friday, calling for answers, accountability and action after video from a deadly police shooting this week showed the officer who fired the fatal shot appeared to turn his body camera off prior to the shooting.

Vincent Belmonte, 19, was shot and killed after investigators said he jumped out of a stolen car that was being chased by police and told officers they were going to have to kill him before he reached for a gun.

But video from the incident released by police did not appear to show the shooting.

In one officer's body camera recording, police can be heard yelling "don't move, don't move," and then three gunshots are heard.

But the body camera belonging to Sgt. Larry McDonald appears to turn on while McDonald is running with his police radio in his hand, and then shuts off two seconds later.

The camera apparently was off during the shooting.

On another officer's recording after the shots are fired, McDonald told officers "they bailed, we chased them, he was holding the gun the whole time."

Another officer told McDonald, "you had no choice, no choice sir."

But Belmonte's stepmother doesn't believe it.

"To make my son out to be some monster is absolutely detestable," said Nickey Duckworth.

She joined activists, calling for McDonald to lose his badge.

"You see why my son ran," said Duckworth. "His greatest fear came true. That's why they run."

Many who gathered Friday said without the video there are too many unanswered questions in the case.

"We cannot accept police officers turning off body cameras right before suspects are shot," said Pastor Anthony Maddox of The Empowerment Church. "That is just unacceptable in this city."

And without the recording, Belmonte's family refuses to believe the police department's version that the 19 year-old told officers they were going to have to kill him.

"If we don't have that on video, that he said that, then how will we say that," said his aunt Shameka Weens.

East Cleveland's police chief said Friday that he could only offer "pure speculation as to what happened with the body camera."

McDonald remains on administrative leave as the Ohio BCI investigates the shooting.

East Cleveland Police are also conducting an internal investigation.

RELATED: Man that police say had gun dies after being shot by officer following pursuit in East Cleveland