Officers on the scene of a Grand Forks shooting that left two dead last month acted reasonably, the Grand Forks County State's Attorney's Office concluded.
According to police, the May 27 shootout was initiated by Salamah Pendleton, 41, of Grand Forks, when two sheriff's deputies attempted to enforce an eviction notice. After Pendleton allegedly opened fire with an assault rifle, the deputies returned fire with their service weapons. Two Grand Forks police officers also responded to the deputies' call for assistance.
Grand Forks Police officer Cody Holte and Pendleton's mother, Lola Moore, were killed in the gunfire. Grand Forks County Sheriff's Deputy Ron Nord and Pendleton also were injured.
In a release issued Tuesday afternoon, June 30, Grand Forks County State's Attorney Haley Wamstad said that, after a thorough review of the facts of the case, it is her legal opinion that the officers involved in the shooting acted reasonably when discharging their weapons.
"The circumstances were tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving," Wamstad said in a statement included in the release. "The officers on scene were responsive, calm and used good judgement in their assessment of the situation and the use of force necessary."
She also stated that law enforcement is a complex and ever-changing field, and officers are frequently called upon to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary to control a situation. In this case, she said that Pendleton posed a threat of serious physical harm or death to the officers and others within the occupied building.
Pendleton has been charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and a single count each of criminal mischief, terrorizing and reckless endangerment. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if convicted of murder, the most serious of the charges. He remains incarcerated in the Grand Forks County Correctional Center while he awaits his preliminary hearing, scheduled for Aug. 7.
When reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, Wamstad declined to further discuss her opinion.