More charges for man shot by Grand Forks County deputies after alleged break-in

Joseph Espinoza is now charged with eight total felonies and three misdemeanors.

Grand Forks County Officer Involved Shooting 2.jpg
Two Grand Forks County Sheriff's deputies are on administrative leave after they shot a man who allegedly broke into a home about five miles south of Grand Forks on Sunday, Feb. 27, while the residents were inside.
Matt Henson / WDAY News
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GRAND FORKS — Authorities have leveled several additional charges against a man who allegedly broke into a Grand Forks County couple’s house and tried to steal their pickup before he was shot and by a pair of sheriffs deputies, hospitalizing him.

Joseph Espinoza was charged on Wednesday with seven felonies — robbery, burglary, attempted theft, stealing a firearm, terrorizing, reckless endangerment, and criminal mischief — plus three further misdemeanors: reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and leaving the scene of an accident. He was charged with felony theft on Tuesday for allegedly stealing a Jeep Grand Cherokee from a Hugo’s grocery store on South Washington Street on Sunday, Feb. 27.

Not on that laundry list, though, are a pair of assault charges that Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office staff on Tuesday said Espinoza is also facing. Beyond that, staff there said that Espinoza would face multiple counts of reckless endangerment and terrorizing, but county court records indicate he is currently facing only a single count of each.

It’s unclear if prosecutors declined to file those charges or if they’re still pending. State’s Attorney Haley Wamstad and Sheriff Andy Schneider did not return Herald requests for clarification on Wednesday afternoon.

The charges, plus a series of press releases put forth by the sheriff’s office, allege that Espinoza stole a car in Grand Forks, crashed it about 5 miles south of town, walked to a nearby house, tried to break into that house, scuffled with a pair of residents there and stole their gun, then attempted to steal their pickup truck.


A pair of deputies confronted Espinoza outside the house and, police claim, he walked toward them with the gun despite their commands to stop. The deputies shot him in the left leg and “rendered aid” before he was taken to Altru hospital.


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

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