The man who stole a police cruiser and careened into a semitrailer on Interstate 29 in May can be seen in recently released body cam footage telling police -- just five minutes before the deadly collision -- that he wants to die.
Grand Forks Officers Shawn Thompson and Brian Samson were called to the South Washington Street Dollar Tree store on May 6 and made contact with Jordan Lee Poitra, 33, in the parking lot. Poitra called police to report he may have found his stolen pickup, he said in the video, though Poitra is unclear about if and when he reported the vehicle stolen. Thompson tells Poitra a report was never filed. Officers asked Poitra to have a seat in the squad car after a few minutes of talking so they can sort through his story. The body camera recording is turned off as Poitra gets into the vehicle.
Officers learned that Poitra had an outstanding warrant on a felony burglary charge out of Cass County and attempted to take him into custody.
Poitra reportedly missed his January court hearing in relation to the December charges of burglary, theft and unlawful entry into a vehicle. An affidavit for his arrest said Poitra jumped the fence of Industrial Builders in West Fargo, where he was employed six months earlier, and used a brick to break into the building. He told officers he was looking for work, that the heat went out in his truck and he was cold, the court document said. He reportedly cooked and ate a pizza before going into five vehicles, the report said.
Officer Thompson then turned on his body camera again as the officers attempted to arrest Poitra. Samson is seen struggling with Poitra as he grabs for the officer’s handgun during the 30-second clip.
Poitra screamed: “Just let me take the gun and shoot it. I just want to die, man,” as officers deployed a taser that appeared to hit him.
Poitra seemed unaffected, took off his jacket and began to run away from officers as he repeated the suicidal remark. Another taser is deployed, but Poitra again acts unaffected.
He can be seen running toward Samson’s police cruiser, opening the door and speeding from the scene. Officers immediately get into the other cruiser and the video ends. One of the body cameras was lost during the scuffle.
Dash camera footage from the stolen cruiser shows the vehicle speeding through stoplights, running over a curb and weaving through traffic. He drives off road for about a minute before crashing through a fence and speeding northbound on I-29.
Poitra steers the vehicle across the highway median into an oncoming semitrailer -- hitting it head first. He can be heard screaming a few seconds before the video cuts out and the cruiser collides with the semitrailer. Poitra died on scene, but the semitrailer driver was uninjured. Poitra drove the cruiser for less than six minutes total.
Lt. Derik Zimmel, of the Grand Forks Police Department, said the crash was declared a deliberate act.
Police issued an emergency alert to cellphones in the area as traffic was significantly delayed on the highway between 32nd and DeMers avenues for several hours.