May 20, 2013
A 64-year old Akron man was shot to death by a University of Akron police officer on Thursday, May 16, 2013. The victim, James Genda, had been pulled over for a routine traffic stop and was trying to turn a BB gun over to the officer when the officer mistook it for a .45-caliber handgun.
Genda was on his cell phone with his sister, Debbie Genda, when he was pulled over by a University of Akron police officer for improper vehicle registration. Genda was stopped just outside the local post office where his sister works and she witnessed the entire event from her office window.
The officer approached Genda’s vehicle and told him to get off the phone, so Genda placed the phone on his dashboard but did not disconnect the call. The officer then went to his patrol car to check Genda’s registration and when he returned to Genda’s car, Genda had the BB gun in his hand.
The officer said the BB gun “looks exactly like a .45-caliber handgun. Black metal. No plastic tip”
The officer fired five shots through the open driver-side window and another five into the open driver-side door.
Debbie Genda could not be reached for comment, but she saw and heard the entire event. She told Genda’s daughter, Michelle Harbaugh, 44, of Erie, pa., that Genda was not threatening the officer in any way. He was merely pulling the BB gun out to hand it to the officer.
Genda kept the BB gun in his car for protection while he worked on cars in his back yard. University police and Akron city police are conducting a joint investigation of the shooting.