Officer cleared after shooting unarmed man without warning

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A police officer will not face criminal charges after shooting an unarmed man last year.

District Attorney David Prater decided a trial for Officer Colton Ellis would not result in a conviction, according to a letter obtained by NewsChannel 4.

"Officer Ellis made decisions that may have created the scenario wherein he felt compelled to use deadly force against Dorles Ellis, but that determination alone does not support criminal charges being filed," Prater wrote in a letter to OCPD Chief Bill Citty.

Officer Ellis shot Dorles Ellis once in the abdomen last December, after the suspect ran from a traffic stop.

Dorles Ellis is a convicted felon, who police had pulled over for speeding.

Instead, he ran into a neighborhood, as Officer Ellis gave chase.

"Officer Ellis stated that he was still unable to completely observe the suspect because of the lack of light, yet his flashlight was never activated," Prater wrote.

"It is clear to me that Officer Colton Ellis did not employ appropriate tactics nor did he utilize his police equipment to lessen the chance that he or another person would be hurt or killed."

Officer Ellis told investigators he saw the suspect "aggressively" reach for his waistband, a fact Prater said can "neither be proven nor disproven."

Then, another officer "described hearing a gunshot and immediately smelling the resulting burnt gunpowder," Prater wrote. "[The officer] then heard Ellis commanding someone to show their hands."

"As far as filing a felony charge against this cop who fired that shot in a dark alley were the suspect led him, no this is not a case for prosecution," said Lou Keel, a former assistant district attorney. "You’re taught early on as an assistant DA, that there should be a probability of a conviction before you try a case. That means before you get judges involved, sheriff’s deputies involved, court clerks and setting appointments."

It's clear, Keel said, that Prater took a close look at the case and studied it in more detail than normal.

"David Prater didn’t rubber stamp this thing and say ‘oh nothing to see here. Everybody move on,'" Keel said. "He took exception with the way the officer presented his claim, told him he didn’t believe that to be true."

While determining Officer Ellis did nothing illegal, Prater asked the police department to pursue administrative action.

Chief Bill Citty is continuing an internal investigation while keeping Ellis on leave -- a move he calls uncommon after the DA's conclusion.

"Because there's no criminal charges doesn't mean we're off the hook," Citty told NewsChannel 4. "We have a responsibility. Our policies and procedures in the use of deadly force are in many ways much more strict than state law."

There is no timetable for the investigation, Citty said.

"Use of deadly force is something we have to take very seriously," he said. "We ask those same questions that the public's going to ask and we have to look at that. We still have the job to determine whether or not we feel as a department within our policies and procedures that that shooting was justified or not."

Citty would not say if he thought the shooting was justified until completing his investigation.

An attorney for Dorles Ellis did not respond to requests for comment.


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