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Feds review shooting

Tribal member was killed in altercation with trooper

LEWISTON – Federal prosecutors have received the FBI’s investigation of an officer-involved shooting that left one man dead and another injured earlier this year on a rural Nez Perce County road.

The U.S. attorney’s office has not made a final determination on the case in which Randall Vernon Ellenwood, 50, died and Ricardo Daniel Rodriguez, 37, was critically injured following an altercation with an Idaho State Police trooper May 18.

The incident off Cottonwood Creek Road began when Trooper Jeffory Talbott pulled over a car driven by Ellenwood for speeding and a complaint of reckless driving. Talbott was allegedly knocked to the ground by Rodriguez, a passenger in the vehicle, as the trooper attempted to place Ellenwood under arrest, according to ISP.

Rodriguez and Ellenwood were allegedly “seriously physically battering” Talbott in the ensuing altercation when the trooper fired his weapon, according to ISP. Ellenwood and Rodriguez were unarmed during the stop.

Ellenwood died at the scene and Rodriguez spent 11 days at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center for injuries sustained during the shooting. Talbott also was seriously injured. He was placed on paid leave pending the completion of an administrative investigation into the stop. He has since returned to light duty.

The FBI, which investigated the case because it involved members of the Nez Perce Tribe, has referred the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Coeur d’Alene. When reached by phone this week, U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said the incident is under consideration by the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and no decisions have been made.

“In a case as serious as this they want to make sure they review everything,” Whelan said.

The civil rights division reviews all federal cases in which an officer-involved shooting is a factor, Whelan said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said the case remains open within the agency’s civil rights division. There is no statute of limitations on officer-involved shooting cases that result in death, according to the department.