The family of a man fatally shot by Struthers Police officer following a chase last year has filed a wrongful death, excessive force lawsuit in Federal Court against the city, its police department, police chief, and two officers.

The civil complaint challenges the actions of officers Tom Schneeman and Capt. Matt Haus on April 1, 2022, when 35-year-old James Sheets was fatally shot following a police pursuit from Struthers to Salt Springs Road in Youngstown.

The lawsuit alleges that dashcam video shows that Sheets could not have pointed a gun at Schneeman as the officer told investigators.

According to a report from the Ohio Bureau of Investigation, Schneeman said that Sheets’ hand was on the gearshift attempting to move his vehicle when the officer said he deployed his taser.

"I see his right hand come up and he turns towards me. I yelled gun, gun, and ducked down while in a seated position,” Schneeman told investigators. “The gun was pointed directly at me. I could see the barrel. I fired 18 times.”

The complaint also calls into question allegations that Sheets tried to run into Captain Haus’s police cruiser in the parking lot of the Wildcat Drive-thru in Struthers as the pursuit was getting underway.

The lawsuit cites what it calls “irrefutable video evidence”  that the Sheets vehicle did not hit or even attempt to strike Haus’s cruiser.

Filed by attorney Frank Cassese, the lawsuit questions the initial hiring of Schneeman as a part-time dispatcher in 2017, claiming that police officer Ben Esposito informed Chief Timothy Roddy that Schneeman had been previously charged with carrying concealed weapons and resisting arrest.

A Mahoning County Grand Jury declined to charge anyone in the officer-involved shooting after the Ohio Bureau of Investigation released the findings of its investigation into the shooting.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office reported that ammo boxes, gun magazines with 58 cartridges, a digital scale, a glass pipe, methamphetamine, and cocaine were found in Sheets' car following the chase.

The lawsuit, which claims wrongful death, excessive force, reckless, wanton, or willful conduct, assault, and battery, and conspiracy seeks punitive and compensatory damages of more than $75,000.

The defendants named have yet to answer the suit which was filed in court on Monday.