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Investigators examining officer-involved fatal shooting in Grand Forks

Jordan Drees and Michael Ruit

GRAND FORKS -- The Grand Forks Police Department has identified two officers involved in a shooting that left one man dead early Sunday morning.

Cpl. Jordan Drees and Officer Michael Ruit have been placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting that killed 41-year-old John Francis Murphy III. The two officers responded shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday after a report of a suicidal subject with a firearm, according to the Police Department.

The subject, later identified as Murphy, did not fire his weapon but refused to obey commands from the officers, according to a news release. Officers discharged their firearms in response to a “perceived threat posed by the armed subject,” the law enforcement agency said.

“As this investigation remains active, minimal specific details can be released at this time,” Lt. Bill Macki said in a release.

The North Dakota Bureau of Investigation must complete its probe before most of the details in the case are expected to be made public, but police did release some new information Tuesday. Officers encountered one of Murphy’s female family members during the incident, according to the release. The woman also had a firearm but immediately complied with orders to place her weapon on the ground, according to police.

Since the BCI is in charge of the investigation, any information the Police Department releases must first be approved by the state agency, Macki said. He declined to say what type of weapon was retrieved from the scene or speculate on whether the officers followed proper procedure.

There is no “textbook definition” for a “perceived threat,” Police Chief Mark Nelson said Sunday during a news conference. Though incidents like the one that unfolded Sunday don’t happen often in the region, the department’s officers are well-trained, Macki said Tuesday.

“Our primary focus when an incident like this occurs is the officer well-being,” Macki said, adding there are protocols in place to ensure officers receive appropriate care.

Grand Forks Police Department policy requires officers involved in shootings to be put on administrative leave. That typically lasts at least three days, Macki said.

Ruit and Drees were not back on duty as of Tuesday, Macki said.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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