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Officers hurt in disturbance Tuesday night in Park Rapids

Bradley James Ellison

Two officers were injured in a melee Tuesday night in Park Rapids when they responded to a suicide call.

Park Rapids police officer Justin Frette and Hubbard County K-9 officer Dan Kruchowski were treated for their injuries at St. Joseph's Area Health Services. Frette was kicked in the face and jaw and Kruchowski suffered a broken hand, Police Chief Terry Eilers said.

K-9 Oakley then bit suspect Bradley James Ellison, 52, several times to cinch the arrest when his handler was down.

Ellison appeared in Hubbard County District Court Thursday on two felony charges of Fourth Degree Assault on a Peace Officer.

He was in a wheelchair, with scabs all over his head and a large bandage on his left arm.

He was still verbally combative in court, objecting to many of the proceedings before Judge Robert Tiffany.

"We've had dealings with him before," Eilers said. "He has mental problems, drug problems, a bunch of different stuff."

The call Tuesday came in just before 7 p.m.

"The original call came in as a guy trying to light himself on fire, which he was trying to," Eilers said. "And then he wouldn't show his hands. He was on a cell phone and kept reaching inside of his jacket pocket or vest pocket. He kept telling them he had a gun and he couldn't get it out and he wanted the cops to shoot him. So they kept telling him to 'Show hands, show hands, show hands!' In fact Justin hollered it out 17 times. 'Show me your hands' and 'get on the ground' and he refused to comply."

When Krushowski and Oakley showed up, the incident nearly got out of control.

"When they were getting close to the guy, he (Ellison) clocked Dan Kruchowski in the head and put him down and then the dog decided to start biting but they couldn't get control of him (Ellison) because the guy had such a big jacket on," Eilers said of the scene.

"They knew a Taser wouldn't work because they couldn't get the probe to go through the jacket so it was a rassling match," the chief added, "So the dog and Dan and Justin are all in a big pile trying to get a hold of this guy. He's a fairly decent-sized guy and when he's loaded up on dope it gets to be a pretty good tussle."

According to Eilers, Ellison actually kicked Frette "twice in the face while they were trying to hold him down" in the ambulance.

The apprehension was complicated by another incident in the same area. Hubbard County Sgt. Shane Plautz took off after a fleeing suspect "and got into a rassling match with him," Eilers said.

Ellison was eventually subdued after being bitten by Oakley, the department's Belgian Malinois.

Eilers said the suspect has Hepatitis C and was spitting on the officers and biting them.

"And everybody went to the hospital and got checked out there and it turned out Dan had a cracked bone in his wrist, Justin had to get some shots, get that bite wound cleaned out..."

In court Thursday, assistant Hubbard County Attorney Jonathan Frieden said Frette would have to undergo hepatitis shots for the next six weeks.

Ellison professed to have memory loss about the incident.

"When they put the dog on me I don't remember a thing," he told the court. "He had me on the head."

Ellison asked for time to find his own attorney.

"The charges are too much," he protested.

"As you indicate the charges are serious," Tiffany said. Ellison qualifies for a public defender, and Tiffany suggested having one stand by.

"I'm not forcing it down your throat but I'm doing it to protect your rights," the judge told Ellison.

Frieden argued Ellison "has limited ties to this community" and a history of "disorderly behavior. He continued to be aggressive even after the officer had his hand on the trigger," Frieden said. "This is a dangerous person."

"I do not have Hep C," Ellison angrily denied. "I took the treatment and had it checked six, seven months ago."

Ellison said he's lived in Park Rapids the past four years and is disabled. "My doctor (Vern) Erickson has me heavily involved in church," he told the judge. "He's a good mentor. He taught me not to fear God but to trust God."

Ellison asked to be released on his own recognizance so he could go back to his church activities.

He said he was depressed that night and slipped off the wagon.

He relapsed into an alcohol haze and was using meth, he admitted.

"To release you would be inimical to public safety and create the threat of bodily harm" to authorities and the public, Tiffany said.

He set bail at $50,000 unconditional and $25,000 on the conditions that Ellison remain law abiding, refrain from using all substances, turn in all his firearms and stay in contact with his attorney.

"How am I gonna pay my rent or keep my apartment?" Ellison complained.

"This guy, we've rassled with him before," the chief said. "Scott Parks and Carrie (Parks) and I rassled with him once before. We were always taking guns and knives away from this guy. Every time we go to his place he wants to be shot by a police officer."

Scott Parks is Hubbard County's chief deputy. His wife, Carrie, is a police officer.

Tiffany set Ellison's next court appearance for Jan. 9.

Ellison complained that he was due to have a hip replacement Jan. 11.

Eilers breathed a sigh of relief that the latest encounter didn't end in gunfire.

"It was close," he said. "Justin said his trigger had already been set. He (Ellison) kept reaching into his jacket pocket, saying, 'I've got a gun. It's stuck and I can't get it out.'"

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.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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