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Jury weighs fate of man accused of killing IMPD officer Breann Leath

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Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 18:15:05-05

INDIANAPOLIS — After seven days of trial, the jury is now deliberating the fate of a man accused of killing an IMPD officer.

Those deliberations began shortly after 4 p.m. and continued into the early morning. Jurors will reconvene at 1 p.m. Friday.

Elliahs Dorsey is accused of shooting and killing officer Breann Leath in April 2020.

She was shot through an apartment door at Wellington Square Apartments while responding to a domestic disturbance.

The caller, Aisha Brown, told dispatchers Dorsey was endangering her and would not get out of her apartment.

Brown was also shot. She survived.

Three other officers were with Leath.

Dorsey is charged with murder, four counts of attempted murder, criminal confinement and battery.

On each of those charges, the jurors can find Dorsey guilty but mentally ill, or not responsible by reason of insanity.

If the jurors don't agree on those charges, they can consider a lesser conviction of criminal recklessness. They will also weigh Dorsey's mental health regarding the criminal recklessness charges.

The defense argues Dorsey was fearful for his life that day and thought Brown was calling to have someone come kill him. Brown called 911 multiple times asking operators to help get Dorsey out of her apartment.

Dorsey could be heard grabbing the phone and speaking to the operator. At one point, he questioned who the operator was.

Brown testified that there was a tussle between she and Dorsey, and that Dorsey had a gun.

Police arrived shortly after.

Officer Charles was to the right side of the door, Leath was to the left and two officers were behind her.

Officer Charles testified he knocked twice with the end of his flashlight. Shortly after, more than eight shots were fired through the door. Two bullets struck Leath in the face, killing her.

The defense argues that IMPD officers did not announce themselves while knocking and that Dorsey did not know or believe it was the police outside of the door. The defense said Dorsey believed it was someone "trying to kill him."

"He pulled the trigger because he was suffering from a mental disease. He believed it was necessary to protect his life to do that and that it was necessary to shoot Aisha Brown because he believed there was a threat. Ladies and gentlemen, we ask you to find the defendant not responsible by reason of insanity," said Ray Casanova.

 "When he gets on the 911 call he said, I wasn't trying to kill her officer. Officer, I promise you. He's making excuses because he knows he's caught. He said to the 911 dispatcher, 'I'm sorry.' So, he's apologizing. You can't ignore those factors," said Marion County Prosecuting Attorney, Jessica Paxson.

The big question for the jury: was Elliahs Dorsey insane at the time of the shooting?

Seven doctors, including psychologists and psychiatrists, testified in this case. Six of them said Dorsey was experiencing a brief psychosis.

"He likely struggles with mental illness. That's not what the state is disputing," said Paxson. "But before the shooting, he talked to multiple family members throughout the day. He asked Wogan if Leath had a family. He also said he just threw his life away. Remember, there was one way in and out. He had no way out. He had to go back into the apartment."

When it comes to his paranoia that someone was going to kill him, the state argued he should be found guilty but mentally ill.

"When he said 'My hands are up, my hands are up you can take me,' him begging the police is a reasonable response for the situation he put himself in," Paxson said. "He just murdered a police officer and he's surrounded."

In closing arguments, the defense again pointed to doctor testimony that Dorsey was having a brief psychosis during the shooting.

"He did not intend to kill a police officer," said Casanova.

Casanova later spoke to the where Dorsey was standing when he fired the shots.

"If you intend to kill someone, you shoot straight through the door," said Casanova. "Officer Leath was standing on the left side of that door, that's what she's trained to do as an officer. Officer Charles was on the right side. They're trained to do that in case someone tries to shoot through the door. He shot at an angle. Tragically, that killed Officer Leath."

In regards to the attempted murder charge with Brown, Casanova said the following:

If he was consciously trying to kill her, he had every opportunity in the world to do that. When he walked over, he bent down, got her phone, didn't do it and walked back into the apartment. That action again is much more consistent with removing a threat. He heard the knock and said that's not the police. I would also point out that in the video you saw he's going through an extremely emotional state. When trying to make sense of what had happened he asked, 'Was I paranoid? Somebody's been trying to set me up. Did I just imagine that? Somebody trying to kill me.' His psychotic thinking is an intense and impaired perception, and he's trying to make sense of what had occurred.

This story will be updated.