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Family of Canton man fatally shot by police calls for communication, answers

Bobby DiCello holds a press conference
Bobby DiCello (center) holds up a picture of family members of Zachary Fornash, who was shot and killed Dec. 5 by Canton Police.

The family and legal team of a Canton man fatally shot by a police officer last week are demanding communication from the city.

Zachary Fornash was carrying a pellet gun when he was shot on Dec. 5, according to Canton Police.

Body camera video shows he did not comply with requests and began walking away before he turned toward the officer and was shot.

The officer’s actions are concerning, said Bobby DiCello, the family’s attorney.

"If you're allowed to carry a firearm in the United States, you ought not end in a casket for walking away from an officer, even is he believes you have one, which he did not. He had a BB gun,” DiCello said during a Thursday news conference. "We all need to understand what's happening in America and that we need a conversation about safety for all of us."

Police were responding to a call from a woman about a domestic dispute when they encountered Fornash, 24, according to the department.

Canton Police Chief John Gabbard has identified Garrett Marino, an eight-year veteran of Canton Police, as the officer who fatally shot Fornash. He's been placed on administrative leave while the state conducts its investigation.

DiCello knows people will say Fornash should have complied with the officer, but that does not align with the U.S. Constitution, he said.

"We are not to be subjected to unreasonable searches, or in this case, seizures. When a body is seized with a bullet, it's got to be because there is a lethal threat,” DiCello said.

DiCello is not approaching the city with a lawsuit at this time, he added. Fornash’s family wants to meet with city officials and the police department.

"I watched the video and it reminds me of what I think some of us are doing through most of our days; looking at each other as objects, as targets, as goals. It's like a video game, isn't it?” DiCello said. “There's a man walking away from me, he might have a gun, I'm going to shoot him before he shoots me. We're not going to have a conversation."

DiCello also represents the family of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old man fatally shot by Akron Police in 2022. A lawsuit against the city of Akron is pending.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.