Did North Dakota police officer tamper with body-cam shortly before police shooting?
by Timothy Charles Holmseth on April 7, 2016, 11:08 A.M. CST
Body-camera footage from a police officer during a pursuit in North Dakota contains signs the camera lens was purposely covered shortly before an officer shot the unarmed man in the parking lot of an emergency room.
The select footage was originally released to WDAZ TV by the Grand Forks Police Department (GFPD) four days after investigative journalist Timothy Charles Holmseth, Write Into Action, set up a Go Fund Me to obtain the video and 911 transcriptions of the event.
Write Into Action has obtained the video WDAZ received that starts five minutes before the shooting and ends one minute after the shooting.
The video begins at approximately 12:42 A.M., February 28, 2015.
The implications of the video of the David James Elliott pursuit and shooting are profound.
It would eventually become known through an investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) that:
While Elliott was alone when he was shot at the conclusion of the second of two pursuits that took place, evidence suggests he may have originally had an unidentified passenger in his vehicle when the initial high-speed chase began at approximately 11 P.M.
for more on the second passenger read - - - Altru shooting 911 records: ‘Second person’ and ‘thousands of pills’ cast doubt upon official narrative of Altru police shooting - Did call to police by Wells Fargo cleaning lady interrupt drug activity involving law enforcement?
There is evidence to suggest the passenger got out of the vehicle at some point after police terminated the first pursuit, due to Elliott’s calling 911 during the chase and telling the police to back off or he would run his vehicle into a bridge.
Facts and circumstances of the entire event suggest Elliott personally knew specific law enforcement officers involved in the pursuit(s) and shooting, including:
Facts and circumstances indicate Elliott was aware specific officers intended to kill him and he was trying to avoid close contact with those officers until he could meet with GFPD officer Matt Bullinger.
Documents and records reveal subtle clues that what was occurring was personal. For instance, in the BCI interview of Trooper Peschong it says:
“ELLIOTT saw Trooper Peschong pointing his weapon at him and said, “Come on shoot me mother fucker. You're too big of a pussy to do it. Let’s end this now.” Trooper Peschong also remembered ELLIOTT point at ELLIOTT's neck and tell Peschong, “Right here, shoot me mother fucker,” the BCI report said.
However, all verbal exchanges between Elliott and law enforcement were redacted so only select quotes are available to the public through the BCI records.
It is also very significant that Peschong and deputies had been ‘following’ Elliott down I-29 in a rural area without emergency lights activated. The activation of emergency lights automatically turns on a police dash cam.
After pulling away from approaching police that were pointing guns at him, Elliott then says something very interesting.
“DAVID ELLIOTT told Grand Forks Police Department Officer Matt Bullinger that he had ran over the spike strips and his tires were going flat. Grand Forks Police Department Officer Matt Bullinger said that DAVID ELLIOTT was upset that his tires were flattened, and told Grand Forks Police Department Officer Matt Bullinger what the tires were worth,” the BCI report said.
Would a suicidal man be worried about the cost of his tires? Elliott’s expression to Bullinger about the tires indicates a relationship or familiarity between them.
Documents and records of the event indicate that at approximately 12:42 A.M. on February 28, 2015, Elliott was sitting atop the Columbia Road Bridge in Grand Forks; he was attempting to wait for Bullinger to arrive.
However, officers were approaching Elliott and pointed their guns at him, which caused him to again proceed forward. There are indications Elliott believed he was going to be killed.
The editor of the video allowed a split-second view of David Elliott to be seen at the very beginning of the video to establish the time, circumstances, and location of the video.
After the quick blip of crystal clear quality video showing Elliot sitting in his pick-up and talking to police through his window, the editor redacted everything for two minutes and forty-eight seconds; thus concealing absolutely everything that what was being said.
At the time of the video clip, Elliott is on the PSAP call that he initiated to 911 shortly after the GFPD began pursuing him at around 11 P.M.
When the video resumes from the redacted mode at 2:48, the digital perfect quality picture is no longer visible. It is replaced with darkness although audio can still be heard. It appears the officer may have placed the video camera underneath his coat.
At 6:40 in the video file the dispatcher can be heard saying “six twenty-seven is on his way”.
BCI records suggest 627 is GFPD officer Matthew Bullinger who had been talking to Elliott over PSAP for over an hour about something.
The radio transmissions that follow indicate officers knew they needed to shoot Elliott before Bullinger arrived.
At 4:46 the dispatcher tells an officer over the radio, “He is willing to talk to 627 in person – he said to give him a little time to get over that.”
The reference to Elliott needing to time to “get over that” may be a reference to something that has taken place that has Elliott angry and/or scared.
The officer responds, “He needs to pull into Altru if that’s going to happen”.
At 6:38 on the video the dispatcher says, “Six twenty seven is on his way”.
At 6:46 on the video an officer on the radio can be heard saying “Is anybody talking to him?” The dispatcher replies and says, “10-4 we still have him on the phone but he requested to speak to six twenty seven in person – he’s the only one he’ll talk to.”
The man on the radio then says, “I understand that [inaudible] stop.”
At 7:48 a flurry of gunshots can be heard and the officer with the body cam says, “Shots fired! Shot’s Fired!”
For a split second the officer’s coat appears to open and video is seen for a second, which proves the camera works properly.
The officer wearing the body-cam is heard screaming “Get your hand’s up! Get em’ up! Get your hands up! Get your hands up!” as another officer says “going to tazer”.
The officer then resumes screaming “Get your hands up now! You’re going to get tazed if you don’t get your hands where we can see them! Get em’ up!”
The officers then declare they are ‘going to tazer’ and another officer is heard saying “stop resisting – stop resisting.”
The officer then says “put your hands behind your back. Do it now!”
It is not known what was driving the nearly maniacal screaming of commands by the officers to Elliott, who had just been shot six times, including three times in the head.
Elliott was unarmed.
No released video shows the actual shooting.
Police would not provide the media any information about the shooting for three days in what may have been a waiting game to see if Elliott would die.
Elliott did not die and the State eventually reached a plea with him. Elliott, who had no prior criminal history, pled guilty to two felony counts surrounding his dangerous and reckless driving.
He was sentenced to one year in jail; sentence suspended with two months home monitoring.
He claims he can’t remember the event.
Write Into Action continues to investigate.