Grand Forks Police Department lawyers up as police shooting video scandal moves to federal court
City Attorney: Police cam video now ‘Discovery’
by Timothy Charles Holmseth on July 30, 2016, 9:01 P.M. CST
Police-cam evidence captured at a police shooting in Grand Forks, North Dakota will not be turned over to Write Into Action by the Grand Forks Police Department (GFPD) without an Order from the federal court.
In a letter dated July 28, 2016, Grand Forks City Attorney Howard Swanson notified Write Into Action (Timothy Charles Holmseth) that existing requests for police-cam public records are now classified as Discovery, and will only be turned over in accordance with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Swanson cites Holmseth v. City of Grand Forks et al. (16-cv-02496-JRT-LIB) (District of Minnesota) as the basis for the City’s decision.
Timothy Holmseth first initiated civil litigation in United States District Court on July 13, 2016 to request an Emergency Injunction that would forbid the planned destruction of police-cam video that capture the police shooting of an unarmed man on February 28, 2015 in the parking lot of Altru Hospital.
Swanson contacted Holmseth after a formal complaint filed by Holmseth against the GFPD Keeper of Records on July 25, 2016, was referred to his office.
Holmseth asserts the GFPD violated state and federal laws when they responded to multiple public records requests for police-cam evidence by providing video that has been carefully altered using a video editor. The alterations were performed to change critical times and conceal specific video pertaining to the events that led up to the shooting of David James Elliott.
North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) inventory records show that after the shooting of Elliott, investigators located the body-cam of University of North Dakota police officer Jerad Braaten underneath his UND squad car.
Braaten, the officer that shot Elliott, who was not even scheduled to work on the night in question, further claimed he was not able to produce his car’s dash-cam because, he said, he forgot to put the memory card in the camera.
On June 26, 2016, GFPD Police Chief Mark Nelson issued a “Special Order” that changed the Department’s policy on retention dates for police-cam video evidence.
Holmseth asserts Nelson’s action is part of a criminal conspiracy by a group of public officials to destroy records that will reveal the truth about the Elliott shooting and other crimes in the area – including the mysterious death of Caitlin Jenna Erickson, which occurred the same night.
On June 16, 2016, a person that identified them self as David James Elliott contacted Holmseth and said Braaten attempted to shoot Elliott while atop the Columbia Road Bridge in Grand Forks, several minutes before the actual shooting, but his gun jammed.
The first attempted shooting of Elliott may be what the GFPD is attempting to cover-up in the videos, because it reveals Braaten’s actions were not spontaneous, and he, along with other officers, were stalking Elliott to kill him.
BCI investigation records appear to support the fact something happened atop the Columbia Road Bridge with Braaten’s firearm, because investigators located an un-spent cartridge from his gun that linked to that location.
(Elliott) told Holmseth that Braaten lied to investigators about the cartridge, and only admitted that he had performed a function with his gun on the bridge after he was told the cartridge was found with his “fingerprints” on it.
Holmseth has obtained enough police cam video from the event to demonstrate the video has been altered – and segments of body-cam video that would have shown what occurred on the Columbia Road Bridge have been replaced with other video.
Following the 2015 shooting, UND Police Chief Eric Plummer issued a written reprimand to Braaten for his conduct regarding his police cams.
But life only got better for Braaten who was supplied a lawyer by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Grand Forks States Attorney David Jones said in a letter to Plummer that he viewed all the documents and videos surrounding the pursuit and shooting, and determined Braaten acted reasonably when he shot Elliott.
Braaten was subsequently hired by the GFPD to the exception of other candidates.
Some of the altered body-cam was turned over to WDAZ-TV by the GFPD; the regional North Dakota news station presented an entirely misleading story that made no mention of the fact the time of the shooting in the body-cam videos did not correspond with the dash-cams.