The Muskogee County District Attorney cleared a police officer who shot a mentally ill man in Oklahoma earlier this month.
Sean Ellis, 44, was shot multiple times by Officer James Moore, 27, as Ellis was reciting the Ten Commandments. As if written for the screen, Ellis was in the middle of shouting perhaps the most famous commandment–“Thou shalt not kill”–as he was shot twice in his torso and once in his right arm.
According to the Muskogee Police Department, an unnamed resident got the attention of Officer Moore and told him that Ellis was acting a little weird and that he possibly had a gun. Body camera footage shows the shooting in its entirety, beginning with the point of contact between Ellis and Moore.
In the video, Moore approaches Ellis, who is not alleged to have committed a crime prior to his interaction with the police, and shouts for him to raise his hands and keep them there. Ellis initially complies, but apparently decides it’s not worth his time and then starts to walk away.
Moore radios that Ellis is attempting to run and continues to shout at Ellis. Moore implores Ellis to stop and get on the ground. This continues for quite awhile as Moore follows Ellis around the corner of a building Moore identifies as “the old Drug Warehouse.”
Eventually, Ellis unholsters a knife and brandishes it backwards. Moore begins to shout for Ellis to drop the knife. Ellis ignores Moore’s requests, flips the blade around and takes off his cowboy hat to begin the aforementioned recitation.
The non-compliant Ellis then appears to take one step in Moore’s direction as shots are fired.
Last Friday, Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge issued a statement which categorized the mentally ill man’s actions as “a direct and lethal threat.” That statement cleared Officer Moore of any wrongdoing. It read, in part:
“Officer James Moore was acting within the scope and course of his employment with the Muskogee Police Department. Officer Moore lawfully fired his handgun at Ellis, striking Ellis three (3) times. Officer James Moore’s actions in the shooting of Sean Ellis are legally justified.”
Ellis’ injuries were ultimately non-life threatening and he is currently recuperating. Upon medical release, he faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and resisting arrest.
[image via screengrab; video courtesy Muskogee Police Department/Video Leak Police]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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