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

Posted at 11:35 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 18:59:39-05

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — A police pursuit in East Cleveland on Tuesday morning resulted in a car crash and shots fired by officers, according to East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner. The man who was shot by police was taken to the hospital, where he died.

According to the chief, at around 10:22 a.m. police located a stolen vehicle and initiated a pursuit. While fleeing, the stolen vehicle crashed into several objects and ignited. The three occupants jumped out of the car on Allandale Avenue and ran off—two headed west towards Euclid Avenue and the third, later identified as the driver, ran behind some nearby homes and then jumped a fence to Apex Academy.

"He jumped over the fence, turned towards officers, made his statement 'you're going to have to kill me' and pointed his gun," said Gardner. "He was facing officers."

Gardner said one officer fired an "undetermined amount of rounds at the suspect."

The man, identified as Vincent Belmonte, 19, of Cleveland, was shot and later died at the hospital.

The man and woman who were passengers in the car got away, according to police.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was requested at the behest of ECPD and is heading up the investigation into the shooting.

Tuesday's shooting comes as East Cleveland city council considers a proposal to ban "warrantless pursuits" by police in the city.

"Today is a sad day of another chase in our city," said Councilwoman Juanita Gowdy, sponsor of the legislation. "We have to have the safety of the people first, and the safety of our community because there are too many killings and it's too much death in our city with this chasing, and it definitely has to stop."

But East Cleveland's police chief defended the need to pursue suspects.

"My opinion, you need to be critical of suspects," said Gardner, "they are the ones causing the issue. Had they had stopped, the entire incident would not have happened."

Gardner said officers' body cameras recorded the shooting. He said those recordings, along with a gun found on the 18-year-old, have been turned over BCI.

Editor's note: East Cleveland police incorrectly reported the teen's age to News 5 in a prior version of this story. The story has been updated with the correct information.

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