FIRST ON FOX: Shannon Brandt did not call 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson a “Republican extremist” during an initial 911 call, casting doubt over an affidavit filed by police in the hours after the teenager was killed.
A probable cause affidavit filed by North Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Christopher Allen states that Brandt, 41, hit the teenager with his 2003 Ford Explorer on Sept. 18, 2021 in McHenry, North Dakota, adding that he told a 911 operator he was part of a “Republican extremist group,” and that he had a “political argument” with Ellingson. According to the affidavit, Brandt also told the 911 operator that Ellingson was calling other people to “get him.”
Ellingson was severely injured as a result of the incident and was taken to a local hospital where he later died.
Brandt was initially charged with criminal vehicular homicide, but that charge was upgraded to murder.
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However, a transcript of the 911 call obtained by Fox News Digital does not show that Brandt ever called Ellingson a “Republican extremist.”
Instead, Brandt told the 911 operator that Ellingson was threatening him “with something to have to do with — something with an extremist republican group.”
Brandt told the 911 operator that Ellingson made a phone call and was heard saying “I thought he was republican (background noise) or something. You’re going to have to come here and handle him.”
Brandt said during the call that he tried to “take off” and then “hit him,” because the teenager allegedly would not “let him go.”
“I, I just tried to take off and…he, he wasn’t going to let me go. I, I hit him. I didn’t mean to. And he’s subdued. I was scared to death, but he’s subdued. He can’t do anything to me now, so — so this is why I’m calling you.”
“If it was a total accident I wouldn’t be scared, but I know it was more than that,” Brandt told the 911 operator.
“I just want to ask you a question. Am I going to go to prison?” Brandt can be heard asking the 911 operator.
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When asked about the incident by the 911 operator, Brandt said that Ellingson “wouldn’t let him leave.”
“Well, it was a dance in here and he — it’s hard to explain. I was trying to escape him. He wouldn’t let me leave. He got on my vehicle and I couldn’t get him away from me,” Brandt said.
“He was saying something about some republican extremist group, saying, ‘I thought he was part of us,'” Brandt said.
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According to the transcript of the 911 call, Brandt handed the phone over to a first responder who arrived at the scene and told the operator that Ellingson was “not conscious, but he’s breathing and blood coming out of his mouth.”
The first responder said that Ellingson’s father arrived to the scene, stating that the teenager was talking to his dad, but “not coherently.”
A picture of Ellingson’s cell phone found at the scene filed as evidence shows a failed call to “Mom.”
North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind previously told Fox News Digital earlier that there was “no evidence” suggesting that the teenager was part of a “Republican extremist group” or that the incident was politically driven.
In the days and weeks following the incident, the North Dakota Highway Patrol failed to correct its initial affidavit which claimed Brandt told the 911 operator that Ellingson called him a “Republican extremist.”
When contacted by Fox News Digital, Niewind said that Trooper Allen is still employed by the North Dakota Highway Patrol and added that he is not under investigation.
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When asked about the contradiction between the probable cause affidavit, Niewind said he could not comment any further and referred Fox News Digital to Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster, who is prosecuting the case.
Brinster did not respond to several requests for comment from Fox News Digital.
Mark Friese, Brandt’s attorney, told Fox News Digital that the officer who filed the affidavit should be fired.
“If I were the state patrol supervisor – that the patrolman who filed that false affidavit, that is an affidavit under oath. It’s made under oath, under penalty of perjury, and nobody seems to care. I would have fired him. You can’t have a dishonest police officer filing – this thing caused a firestorm,” Friese said.
Friese said that he hopes there is some type of accountability for the officer who filed the affidavit, which he considers false.
“I’m just I’m hoping there’s a measure of accountability. Shannon was arrested. He posted bond. He was released. He was cooperative with all the bond conditions. And then based on that false affidavit, the prosecutor ratcheted up the charges to intentional homicide,” Friese said. “But there’s been no accountability. There’s been no apology to my client. There’s been no apology to the family of the decedent, has been no apology to the public. There’s been no discipline for the people who were submitting these false affidavits.”
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On Nov. 23, 2022, Friese filed a request for the court to reduce Brandt’s bond, pointing out that Brandt never called Ellingson a “Republican extremist” in the 911 call, as the initial probable cause affidavit states.
“But contrary to the initial probable cause affidavit, Mr. Brandt never stated the decedent was part of a ‘Republican extremist group,’ he stated the decedent ‘was saying something about some republican extremist group’ while the decedent ‘was calling other guys to come get me,'” Friese wrote. “The probable cause affidavit falsely claims that Mr. Brandt reported the decedent was part of an extremist group, when the actual report was that in conjunction with threats directed to Mr. Brandt, the decedent was threatening to call extremists to hurt Mr. Brandt.”
“Even more egregiously, the probable cause affidavit boldly and falsely claims Mr. Brandt “stated he struck the pedestrian because the pedestrian was threatening him.” While Mr. Brandt acknowledged hitting the pedestrian, he repeatedly and emphatically noted it was unintended, and he was simply trying to get away,” Friese wrote.
A judge reduced Brandt’s bail to $500,000 on Dec. 6, 2022, and Brandt was released from jail shortly after posting bond. As part of the bail order, Brandt was placed under house arrest, must wear a GPS tracking device, and must be in compliance with other restrictions.
A jury trial is scheduled for late-May, according to court records.