Sentenced, scolded in cop injury case
It's the call all cops dread - dealing with an irrational and chemically infused person you know wants you to take him out of his misery.
That was the call Park Rapids police officer Justin Frette went on Dec. 27: A suicidal male threatening to set himself on fire.
"He had threatened to kill cops in the past," Frette said, reading from a victim impact statement Monday at Bradley Ellison's sentencing.
Ellison, 52, attended the sentencing in a wheelchair. He is recovering from a recent surgery.
"He was telling me to kill him...I almost used deadly force," the obviously shaken officer said.
"It was a split second decision."
If county deputy Dan Kruchowski hadn't showed up at that time, Frette doesn't know if he would have pulled the trigger, but he's been bothered by having to face that choice ever since, he admitted.
The melee that ensued resulted in injuries to both officers. Frette took six months off for a torn shoulder and subsequent surgery. He just returned to work.
Frette said he hopes Ellison stays on his medications and "stays off meth and alcohol."
The night of his arrest, Ellison said he was depressed and fell off the wagon. He'd consumed a large quantity of rum and was also using methamphetamines, he admitted.
Frette also had to undergo a series of Hepatitis C shots as a consequence of coming into contact with Ellison.
At Ellison's plea hearing in April Judge Robert Tiffany released him for time served on the theory he'd served the maximum Tiffany could mete out under the law.
Ellison pled guilty to two counts of Fourth Degree Assault on a Peace Officer, each punishable by a maximum of three years in jail and/or a $6,000 fine.
But since Ellison had no criminal history points to elevate the sentence, all the sentencing guidelines recommended was a year and a day in jail.
By that time, he'd served 126 days at the Hubbard County jail, which translated to 188 days in prison. Inmates must only serve two-thirds of a sentence if they are on good behavior, so the 188 days satisfied the guidelines sentence and Ellison was freed.
He will be on supervised probation for three years, must remain drug and alcohol-free and law abiding.
He can never possess a gun again.
But that didn't sit well with Tiffany, who gave him a judicial tongue-lashing.
"The court takes a very dim view of your conduct," Tiffany told Ellison, adding he should be thanking the officers for sparing his life.
"They had every right to use deadly force," Tiffany said. "For their restraint they got injured...These are very serious offenses."
Ellison was ordered to make full restitution for the officers' medical bills and workers compensation payments, which will total $46,285.33.
"I'm very sorry for what I did and I take full responsibility for what I did," Ellison said. He said he was undergoing psychiatric treatment and is involved in Bible study and church therapy to amend his behavior.
"I'm trying to do the best I can," he told the court.
He agreed to restitution.
"I'm sitting down with my attorney to see how much I can give to Mr. Frette each month and still put food on my plate," Ellison said.
Ellison's criminal history includes DWI incidents in 1990 and 1995 in Hennepin and Todd counties. In the Hennepin County incident, he was also charged with fleeing peace officers.
In Hubbard County he's been convicted in two disorderly conduct incidents and writing a worthless check.
He'd also admitted to assaulting peace officers in the past, but apparently never had been charged, which is why he had a low criminal history score.
Police Chief Terry Eilers said Ellison has had run-ins with officers on a fairly regular basis, and expressed relief the December incident had not ended in gunfire.
Outside the courtroom, Ellison's anguished mother apologized to Frette. The officer told her not to accept the blame for her son's conduct.
Tiffany said he hoped this was the wake-up call Ellison needed. "This isn't a three year thing," the judge noted of the probationary period. "It's lifelong."