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Cop's killer back in prison after failed drug test

Undated courtesy photo of Timothy Michael Eling, circa Oct. 2016.

OAKDALE, Minn. — A paroled cop killer is back in prison.

Timothy Eling, 68, was released from prison in 2016 after serving 29 years for the shooting death of an Oakdale police officer in 1982. He has since been returned to prison for violating the terms of his release. According to state records, he is being held at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Lino Lakes.

Eling's release was controversial; police advocates criticized the move and legislators called prison officials into hearings to explain the decision. He had received a life sentence for the death of officer Richard Walton during a robbery.

Walton, a father of five, was off duty but moonlighting as security at the old Mounds Park Hospital pharmacy in St. Paul on a Sunday night in 1982. He was responding to the robbery when he was shot in the head.

It was reported that Eling's drug addiction led him to rob the pharmacy that night.

When Eling was freed from prison in December 2015, he was placed on supervised release. But in 2016 he tested positive for methamphetamine during a routine drug test, a violation of the release, according to Sarah J. Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

"This is a sad example of the power of addiction — that even when given this opportunity, some will succumb to using substances again. The return to prison is the consequence for this failure," Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy said in a prepared statement.

Eling was sent back to prison in October of 2016 for two years, after which he will be eligible for another life-sentence review hearing.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.