Breaking News
More () »

Defense wants death penalty dropped in killing of IMPD Officer Breann Leath

Elliahs Dorsey is accused of murdering Officer Leath on April 9, 2020, while she and three other officers were responding to a disturbance call.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is asking a judge to deny a motion by a man accused of killing IMPD Officer Breann Leath that would have the death penalty option removed.

Elliahs Dorsey is accused of murdering Officer Leath on April 9, 2020, while she and three other officers were responding to a domestic violence call involving Dorsey.

In Dorsey's motion, he questioned if the facts of the case allowed for the death sentence and if it was constitutional.

The prosecutor is looking for the death penalty, saying the killing happened while Officer Leath "was acting in the course of duty as a law enforcement officer."

Credit: IMPD
Elliahs Dorsey

Dorsey's public defenders argue that a defendant can only be sentenced to death for murdering a law enforcement officer unless the defendant knew he was shooting at law enforcement. 

According to the public defenders, the officers did not announce themselves as the police and that Dorsey said, "that ain't the police" before firing shots through the door.

On March 17, a judge voiced concerns on allowing the death penalty – given the evidence both side have presented at this point. The prosecution and defense were given until March 30 to present more evidence before a decision is made.

Leath’s family said they were consulted about options for the trial and collectively wanted to pursue the death penalty. They were present during the March 17 hearing, along with several law enforcement officers.

“You hurt somebody, you shoot them and kill them, there are consequences to that, and I feel like we should make that point,” said Jennifer Leath, Breann’s mother in 2021. “I just want justice. I feel like if we could get some kind of justice for her, it will help us heal.”

Dorsey is facing charges for murder, attempted murder, criminal confinement and battery. His trial is currently set for September 18, 2023.

Remembering Officer Leath

Leath was a mother and just 24 years old when she was killed. She had been with IMPD for more than two years. Leath had wanted to be a police officer like her father since she was young.

Credit: WTHR

In her honor, IMPD launched the LEATH Initiative in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana. LEATH stands for Law Enforcement Action to Halt domestic violence against men, women and children. 

The LEATH Initiative will target domestic violence offenders who commit crimes with illegally owned guns. Those who have a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, are the subject of a final protective order, or have a state or federal felony conviction will be at the center of the investigations.

Federal law prohibits previous domestic violence offenders from legally possessing firearms or ammunition. Violators could face up to 10 years in federal prison.

The LEATH Initiative will also work to support victims of domestic violence. Officers will connect domestic survivors and witnesses with social services in their communities to help.

Before You Leave, Check This Out