Grand Forks home intruder shot by deputies facing felony theft charge, other charges pending

Haley Wamstad, the state’s attorney for Grand Forks County, said her office hopes to make a charging decision “in the near term.”

Grand Forks County Officer Involved Shooting 1.jpg
Two Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies are on administrative leave following an officer-involved shooting on Sunday morning, Feb. 27.
Matt Henson / WDAY News
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GRAND FORKS — A man shot by Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies after he allegedly broke into a rural couple’s home on Sunday has been charged with felony theft, and authorities say several more charges are en route.

Joseph Espinoza, 37, was charged Tuesday, March 1, with felony theft in Grand Forks County Court. That’s the only recent charge filed against him, according to county court records, but Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies said Tuesday afternoon that he is being charged with several more crimes, which are:

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Burglary/breaking and entering
  • Criminal mischief
  • Robbery
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Two counts of simple assault
  • Two counts of reckless endangerment
  • Four counts of terrorizing
  • Attempted theft of a motor vehicle

Haley Wamstad, the state’s attorney for Grand Forks County, said her office hopes to make a charging decision “in the near term.” The offenses put forward by the sheriffs office, Wamstad told the Herald, have been forwarded to her by law enforcement.
“We review the investigative materials and independently make a decision on the charges filed with the district court,” she said in a Tuesday afternoon email.

Police say that Espinoza tried to break into a home about 5 miles south of Grand Forks proper on Sunday, Feb. 27.

He allegedly wrestled a gun from one of two residents inside and tried to steal the residents’ pickup truck.


Deputies Brandon Rakoczy and Dustin Wadholm shot Espinoza in the leg after, police claim, he walked toward them with the residents’ gun in his hand.


Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

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