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Judge Rules Prosecutors May Pursue Death Penalty For Suspect Accused Of Killing Indianapolis Cop

Indianapolis, IN – A judge refused to grant an accused cop-killer’s request to block prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against him in the event he is found guilty at trial later this year.

Elliahs Dorsey, 28, has been charged with murder, criminal confinement, battery, and four counts of attempted murder in connection with the April 9, 2020, shooting death of 24-year-old Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Officer Breann Leath, WISH reported.

Officer Leath, a mother of one, was fatally shot as she was responding to a report of a domestic disturbance at the Harrison Terrace Apartments that day, according to WBIW.

Dorsey’s trial is slated to begin on September 18, WTHR reported.

In cases involving the murder of a law enforcement officer, prosecutors must prove the killer was aware the victim was a law enforcement officer at the time of the offense in order to seek the death penalty, according to WXIN.

Dorsey’s attorneys filed a petition asking Marion County Superior Court Judge Mark Stoner to dismiss the potential death penalty in his case, claiming their client had no idea the person he was shooting at was a police officer, WTHR reported.

They claimed the officers who responded to the residence did not announce themselves, and that their client said “that ain’t the police” before he fired a gun through a closed door, striking Officer Leath.

Stoner heard evidence from both prosecution and defense before he ultimately denied the defense’s motion on May 12, WTHR reported.

“In reviewing the exhibits, the Court does find there is some evidence… that the State could argue to a jury that the Defendant had actual knowledge,” the judge said, according to WISH. “The evidence must be entered as substantive evidence against the Defendant, and the jury would have to determine what value to give it.”

The fatal shooting occurred at the Harrison Terrace Apartments in the 1800-block of Edinburgh Square, southwest of 21st Street and North Franklin Road, at approximately 2:50 p.m. on April 9, 2020, WBIW reported.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor told reporters at a media briefing that the suspect began shooting “through the structure” as soon as officers arrived on the scene.

Officer Leath and a female victim at the scene were both shot.

Chief Taylor said that other officers pulled Officer Leath and the wounded victim out of harm’s way and down a staircase to safety.

The female civilian who was wounded survived the shooting, WXIN reported.

Officer Leath was quickly transported to Eskenazi Hospital where “despite the best lifesaving techniques, she was pronounced deceased, Chief Taylor said.

Chief Taylor described the fallen hero as “an example of the type of officer we want on this department,” and said she was the mother of a young son.

Officer Leath, an Army National Guard veteran, joined the IMPD two-and-one-half years prior to her murder, WXIN reported.

“She heard the call and went toward that which could do her harm because she knew if she didn’t, harm may come to others,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

The lifelong Indianapolis resident had always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a law enforcement officer, WXIN reported.

Both of her parents have worked for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Her father was a deputy, and her mother was a 911 dispatcher.

“Officer Leath was kind and loving as a mother of a young child herself,” Chief Taylor said, according to WXIN. “She is the daughter of a family that’s been devoted to public safety and a lifelong resident of Indianapolis.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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