Witnesses describe events of 2010 shootingMichael Alvin Partlow was setting a shotgun down when Jamestown police officers fired at him in September 2010, according to testimony Partlow’s aunt and her boyfriend presented Thursday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Michael Alvin Partlow was setting a shotgun down when Jamestown police officers fired at him in September 2010, according to testimony Partlow’s aunt and her boyfriend presented Thursday.
The testimony differed from police reports given after the incident, which said Partlow pointed the gun at the officers before they fired.
The prosecution called the pair to the stand in the trial of Partlow, 28, Kensal, N.D. in Southeast District Court. Partlow is charged with terrorizing for allegedly pointing a shotgun at Jamestown Police Department officers on Sept. 19, 2010.
Three police officers fired at Partlow, causing multiple wounds. One used a shotgun and the other two used pistols.
The officers had been called to the scene by Lisa Partlow, Michael Partlow’s aunt, because Michael Partlow was threatening to kill himself.
“I was worried he would hurt himself,” she said. “I took the suicidal statements seriously. He wouldn’t have hurt anybody but himself.”
Lisa Partlow was following her nephew when he exited the apartment building at 1506 Sixth Ave S.W.
“He came out of the apartment holding a gun in his left hand and talking to his grandmother on a cell phone he held in his right,” she said. “I heard ‘drop the gun,’ and looked over and saw five officers. He was in the action of laying the gun down when the shots rang out.”
Stutsman County State’s Attorney Fritz Fremgen had Lisa Partlow demonstrate the actions she saw her nephew make using a roll of paper as a prop in place of the shotgun.
Earlier testimony by Arnie Rummel, special agent for the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, attempted to establish that Michael Partlow’s shotgun had been pointed at the officers.
The gun showed damage to the cap at the front end of the magazine and damage along the front of the forearm, or front grip, of the gun.
“The gun had to be pointed at an officer when it was struck,” Rummel said.
On Wednesday four Jamestown Police Department officers involved with the shooting testified they felt the gun was being aimed at them.
Rummel also testified that the shotgun was not loaded but had two unfired shells next to it when he recovered it during the investigation. Officers had earlier testified that three shells and been removed from the gun shortly after the incidend.
LaMont Jacobson, firearms examiner for the North Dakota Crime Lab, testified that a trace of lead was found in the damage to the gun’s wooden forearm.
“This could be consistent with lead projectiles from a shotgun,” he said.
Under cross-examination, Rummel noted that Michael Partlow had bullet wounds to both hands but the shotgun showed no damage to the trigger area.
Mark Michel, Lisa Partlow’s boyfriend, testified that he only saw Michael Partlow hold the gun with his left hand on the forearm and he made no action to load the gun. This seemed to contradict statements he had made to police at the time of the incident.
Fremgen asked him three times to review a transcript of his statement to police. On two occasions Michel said he had no recollection of making the statement.
“I don’t believe the words in the transcript are mine,” he said.
Fremgen requested to question Michel as a hostile witness. Judge Thomas Merrick denied the request.
Fremgen then called Cal Dupree, agent with the NDBCI, who testified that the transcripts represented an accurate copy of the interview he had conducted with Michel.
The prosecution rested its case after Dupree’s testimony.
The defense called Kurtis Lusterman, a neighbor of Michael Partlow in the apartment building.
He testified that Partlow had been depressed regarding a situation involving his ex-wife and children and had been drinking more the night of the incident than Lusterman had ever seen. He also testified he was at a balcony window above the shooting scene at the time of the incident.
“Michael Partlow had a rifle or shotgun in one hand and a cellphone in the other,” Lusterman testified. “When the hand with the weapon moved the shots rang out.”
The defense will continue its case Friday with the testimony of the defendant. The case is expected to go to the jury in the early afternoon.
Terrorizing is a Class C felony punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The charge carries a two-year minimum sentence.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com