CLEVELAND, Ohio — A man accused of accidentally shooting and killing a 27-year-old man at a dinner party that was live-streamed on Facebook Live would “trade places” with the man he’s accused of killing, his attorney said.
Steven Leannais, 30, made his first court appearance Monday following the shooting that killed Anthony Stanford II. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Suzan Sweeney set his bond at $10,000. Leannais is charged with third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter.
Defense attorney Leif Christman said that his client is “extremely sorry for what happened and extends his condolences to Anthony’s mother, Mrs. (Trina) Ford.”
“If there was any to trade places, he’d gladly do it,” Christman said.
Leannais, who has never been convicted of a felony, agreed to prosecutors’ request that he give up any guns he still has and surrender his concealed carry license as part of the conditions of his bond. He was also ordered to have no contact with any witnesses to the shooting.
“It’s so tragic,” Christman said. “His friend is deceased. He hasn’t eaten or slept since it happened. He needs to get counseling.”
Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brian Murphy agreed that Stanford’s death is tragic but disputed calling the shooting “accidental.”
Murphy said that Leannais was responsible for firing the gun despite it being an “unintentional” shooting.
Christman said he will look into accusations that Leannais was drunk at the time of the shooting. Leannais’ blood-alcohol content tested at 0.058 three-and-half hours after the shooting, according to court records.
The shooting happened about 9:50 p.m. Thursday at a dinner party Leannais hosted at his apartment in The Brick Lofts Apartments at Historic West Tech High in the 2200 block of West 93rd Street, according to police reports.
Leannais live-streamed the dinner party on Facebook Live. A person who viewed the recording of the incident provided the video to cleveland.com.
The events in the video match the descriptions of what police wrote in their report of the incident. Christman said he watched the video and could use it as part of the case.
Leannais hosted Stanford and two other friends for dinner and drinks when the shooting happened, police reports say.
One of the other partygoers went into Leannais’ bedroom and grabbed his handgun.
The video shows a man waving a gun around. He asks if the video is recording and says: “We’re going to walk up to this guy and say ‘we’re going to cap this guy’s ass.'”
Someone tells the man the gun is loaded and a woman says “Don’t point that at me.”
The man points the gun at his face and Leannais grabs the gun and takes out the magazine and gives it back, the video shows.
Leannais grabbed the gun from his friend and told him it was still loaded, police reports say.
“There you go,” Leannais says in the video. “Now it’s not loaded.”
Leannais took out the magazine and gave the gun back to the other man, who has not been charged with a crime in connection with the case.
The group laughs about it and the man puts the gun in his mouth and says: “I’m going to do it, I swear to God.”
The man then says: “The last thing they say is always, ‘I didn’t know it was loaded.'”
Leannais said that’s why he took the clip out and assures the viewers he took out the bullets.
“See that,” he says putting the bullets up to the camera. “That would have made a bloody mess. See that hollow point right there?”
Someone shows a bottle of alcohol in front of the camera while the man again puts the gun in his mouth. Stanford then arrives. The man with the gun jokes with him, shakes his hand and Stanford looks into the camera.
Leannais grabs the camera and walks over to a kitchen counter where he shows Stanford what he made for dinner.
“Yeah, that’s what’s up,” Stanford says. The video recording ends.
Leannais eventually picked the gun up, lowered it to his side pulled the trigger, unaware a bullet was in the chamber, according to police reports and court records. The bullet hit Stanford in the upper abdomen, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.
Stanford ran out the door after he was shot. Leannais followed and called 911, police reports say.
Paramedics met the pair in the apartment’s lobby and rushed Stanford to MetroHealth where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.
Stanford was a maintenance worker in the building and repaired homes on the side, Ford said. He graduated from John Marshall High School and was a boxer when he was younger.
He still worked as a trainer to younger boxers, his mother said.