LIMA — The November shooting death of a Lima juvenile was a case of self-defense, an Allen County grand jury determined this month.
A joint press release issued Monday by the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office and Lima Police Department confirmed that Mekhi Williams died Nov. 18 of multiple gunshot wounds, but grand jurors determined the shooter, Zachary Copeland, was justified in his actions. He was not charged.
On Nov. 18, officers from the Lima Police Department responded to a fatal shooting in the 300 block of South Scott Street. Upon their arrival officers found the 16-year-old Williams deceased.
Detectives investigated the incident by taking statements, gathering evidence and reviewing a video recording of the incident. Police later that night arrested Copeland as a suspect in the shooting, but he was later released after an initial review of the evidence with the prosecutor’s office indicated he acted in self-defense.
According to Monday’s statement from police and prosecutors, a video of the incident shows Williams approach Copeland from behind. Williams wrestled a firearm away from Copeland and pointed the firearm at him, but Copeland then used a second firearm to shoot Williams in what was determined to be self-defense. Williams died as a result of the gunshot wounds.
An autopsy performed by the Lucas County Coroner’s Office confirmed bullets struck the front and side of Williams’ body.
The case was presented to the Allen County grand jury on Dec. 15. The jurors examined video evidence and statements in reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding the use of deadly force. The grand jurors found that the deadly force was used in self-defense and declined to issue an indictment.
“This was unfortunately a tragic event that resulted in the death of a young man in our community. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of Mekhi Williams, and we commend the patience the family has shown while waiting for the investigation to be completed,” according to the joint statement.
More than 100 people gathered in the 300 block of South Scott Street on the night of Nov. 21 for a candlelight vigil to remember the Lima Senior High School student. Jermaine Lawrence with New Hope Missionary Baptist Church that evening urged young people to turn away from gun violence.
“Only God can do the healing that’s necessary, that needs to be done in this community,” Lawrence said. “It’s tragic, but then again only God can do the healing. It takes a lot of prayer, togetherness. Most importantly, putting the differences aside, no drama, whatever the case may be.”