INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Formal charges have been filed against a man accused of murdering IMPD Officer Breann Leath.
Elliahs Dorsey, 27, is charged with one count of murder, four counts of attempted murder, one count of criminal confinement, and one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury.
One count of attempted murder and the criminal confinement and battery charges are in connection with the events alleged to have taken place prior to officers’ arrival and the shooting of the woman who was in the apartment with him.
The additional three counts of attempted murder were filed for the alleged shooting at three other officers who were outside the door of the apartment.
Dorsey made his first court appearance Tuesday morning. It was a virtual appearance due to coronavirus concerns.
During his hearing, Dorsey entered an automatic plea of not guilty on all charges.
He is being held without bond, and a no contact order was filed for the witnesses involved.
The judge said the murder charge has a potential of up to 65 years in prison. Each attempted murder charge carried a potential of up to 40 years in prison. The criminal confinement charge has a potential of up to 16 years, and the bodily injury charge has the potential for one year.
When the judge asked Dorsey if he planned to hire an attorney or if he would like to be assigned a public defender, he initially said neither and insisted on representing himself. But he later said he spoke with his family about hiring a lawyer.
He never looked at the screen during his appearance, and he kept closing his eyes and shaking his head.
He will have a review of council hearing on May 6. The judge said they will address the lawyer situation at that time.
His trial date is set for August 17.
The shooting occurred Thursday, April 9 just before 3 p.m. Officers were called to the 1800 block of Edinburge Square, near E. 21st Street and N. Franklin Road on a report of a disturbance between a man and a woman. The dispatcher also noted the man thought someone was trying to kill him and might be mentally ill.
Court documents say Dorsey heard the woman he was with telling someone else where they were over the phone, and he heard that woman say, “You need to come get him.”
He claims not long after he heard a knock on the door, and police say he started shooting at them through the apartment door.
Documents say Officer Leath was shot twice in the head.
“I think for me this case hits home because she had a small kid and I have two small kids as well,” said Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears.
Prosecutor Mears details in the affidavit that after shooting officer Leath and then his girlfriend, Dorsey got on his knees and surrendered. Dorsey allegedly confessed to officers, “He thought someone was coming to get him. He didn’t look to see who it was.”
“One of the issues in this case is his state of mind. What did he know or think was occurring,” said Mears.
Prosecutors claim Dorsey admitted to police he only realized he had killed an officer after he shot his girlfriend four times as she tried to run out of the apartment.
That mindset could determine if prosecutors can seek the death penalty or not.
“There has to be some knowledge that he knew there was a police officer there. The aggravator only works if you knowingly kill a police officer,” said Mears.
While officer Leath’s family waits for justice, her squad car remains on display outside IMPD East District headquarters.The public can drive past, but is asked to stay inside their car.
‘We’re making due with the best we can to make sure she gets proper honors and a proper burial with a line of duty death,” said IMPD East District commander Rick Riddle.
Memorial services are also planned for this Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The events will be impacted by the states stay at home order while still honoring officer Leath’s service to the city.
The Central Indiana Police Foundation has also set up memorial fund for officer Leath’s young son.
“It’s going to be a different ceremony, but in line with family wishes, she will get full honors as a line of duty death,” said Riddle.
“I think it’s important that number one we as a community rally around that family, but number two people are held accountable,” said Mears.
Prosecutor Mears says no decision has been made on whether to try and seek the death penalty. Dorsey may be given a mental health evaluation.
For now, the judge set a trial date of early August, although that is very unlikely to take place.
Dorsey is being held without bond.