The inquiry into the shooting of a man in the parking lot of Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, and the UND campus police officer responsible for the shooting will not be facing charges:
The police department asked for an independent review following a chase and subsequent shooting, to clear up principle issues raised about the use of force by law enforcement. The State’s Attorney’s opinion is that no legal action should be taken against the officer who fired at suspect David Elliott.
The UND officer was helping in a chase that had covered multiple counties, as well as the City of Grand Forks. The chase ended in the parking lot of Altru Hospital.
Officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, but say he was trying to ram the police cruisers. That’s when a UND Officer fired at Elliott’s vehicle. Elliott was shot six times, according to his wife.
Police shootings in general are a hot political topic right now, so there will be some who see this as an unjust outcome, but presuming the facts here are accurate this seems like a justifiable shooting. If the man, who had already led police on a high-speed chase endangering the public, was actively trying to ram law enforcement with his car he had to be stopped. We arm police officers for a reason, and a situation like this is one of those reasons.
The problem here is that local law enforcement cocked up communications with the public in the immediate aftermath of this incident. Rather than being forthright and transparent after the shooting local law enforcement went silent, creating a vacuum into which all manner of conjecture and rumor could be spewed. That turned what now seems to be an unfortunate but justified shooting into something that, at the time, appeared far more sinister.
Shame on local law enforcement for creating that situation. They let the public go days – not hours, days – with scant details about what led to this chase and shooting, and they may have broken some state laws concerning law enforcement disclosure along the way.
It seems the on-the-ground cops who handled this situation with Elliot did their jobs right, but the administration screwed up. The public deserves to know why that happened, and how it will be prevented in the future.