Westerville News & Public Opinion

Officer shoots, kills man with gun

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What began as a routine traffic stop early Monday morning, Nov. 11, ended with a man shot and killed by a Westerville police officer.

Officer David Leighty attempted to pull over John W. Montgomery shortly after 1 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11 because a light was out on Montgomery's vehicle, city officials said.

Montgomery, 59, initially failed to stop, and Leighty followed him into Columbus city limits until Montgomery pulled over in the 2000 block of Polaris Parkway at 1:16 a.m., near Olde Worthington Road.

As Leighty approached the vehicle, he noticed Montgomery was holding a handgun.

"The officer ordered him to drop the weapon, and he didn't comply," she city spokeswoman Christa Dickey.

Leighty fired several shots, wounding the man. He was taken to Mount Carmel St. Ann's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:03 a.m., Dickey said.

A female passenger in the car was not wounded. She was questioned and released after the shooting.

Montgomery's handgun was loaded, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, Columbus Division of Police spokesman.

A convicted felon who served time in prison for voluntary manslaughter, Montgomery was forbidden from carrying a gun.

Because the shooting took place within Columbus police jurisdiction, Columbus police will carry out a full investigation, as is protocol with a police-involved shooting, Weiner said.

The findings of the investigation will be forwarded to the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office and Westerville police for review, Weiner said.

Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said Leighty is a well-respected officer who has been recognized for his work. He has been a patrolman in Westerville for six years and had six years of prior experience outside the department.

Morbitzer said Leighty acted in accordance with his training, while responding to an extremely dangerous and unexpected situation.

"People like to qualify situations as a routine traffic stop or a routine alarm, but there are no routine calls of any kind," Morbitzer said. "The officer was fighting to protect his life at that time.

"He was ready for the situation. He addressed it properly."

The incident marks the first time a Westerville officer has fired shots during a call in the 98-year history of the division, Morbitzer said.

The dashboard camera in the patrol car was running and it possibly captured some or much of the incident. The footage is being reviewed by police.

Leighty has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation is completed, and the division's counseling services and chaplain corps are available to him, Morbitzer said.

"Our job is to provide as much support to him as we can," Morbitzer said.

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