Shannon Brandt pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson after prosecutors reduced a murder charge in the September 2022 incident.
Brandt, 42, ran over Ellingson with his 2003 Ford Explorer on Sept. 18, 2022, in McHenry, North Dakota after an argument, prosecutors said. An arrest affidavit filed by a North Dakota State Patrol officer states that Brandt told a 911 operator that Ellingson “wouldn’t let me leave.” According to the affidavit, Brandt also told the 911 operator that Ellingson was calling other people to “get him.”
“He got on my vehicle and I couldn’t get him away from me,” Brandt said of Ellingson. “He was threatening me. He was saying something about some Republican extremist group, saying, ‘I thought he was part of us.’”
Ellingson was severely injured as a result of the incident and was taken to a local hospital where he later died. The affidavit states that Brandt left the scene of the incident and was intoxicated.
The affidavit filed by the trooper states that Brandt called Ellingson a “Republican extremist,” though a review of the 911 call transcript shows that wasn’t the case. North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind previously told Fox News Digital earlier that there was “no evidence” suggesting that the teenager was part of a “Republican extremist group” or that the incident was politically driven.
While Brandt was initially charged with criminal vehicular homicide, Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster would later upgrade those charges to murder.
Those charges were reduced to manslaughter on May 2.
Brandt, on May 18, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge, and prosecutors dismissed the lower charge of duty in an accident involving death or injury or death.
Mark Friese, Brandt’s lawyer, told Fox News Digital in a statement that his client is pleased with the outcome of the investigation.
“Mr. Brandt is pleased that a comprehensive investigation has conclusively established that initial claims regarding the cause and circumstances of this tragic accident were untrue. Autopsy findings and forensic review by the State Medical Examiner’s Office resulted in classification of the tragic death as accidental. Defense forensic review confirms these findings. Recordings, transcripts, and testimony in preliminary proceedings prove a state patrolman falsely represented Mr. Brandt’s comments to the court and to the public. The resulting intense media attention is directly attributable to those misrepresentations,” Friese said.
“Almost universally, small North Dakota communities band together in the aftermath of tragedy. The misplaced media attention in this case has created the opposite result. The discourse and divide directly resulting from false representations by police have fractured a community and have irreparably hurt all involved. We are hopeful that false narratives about this accident will stop, and when coupled with Mr. Brandt’s plea and acceptance of responsibility, will allow a family and community to grieve,” he added.
Brandt said during the 911 call that he tried to “take off” and then “hit him,” because the teenager allegedly would not “let him go.”
“I, I just tried to take off and…he, he wasn’t going to let me go. I, I hit him. I didn’t mean to. And he’s subdued. I was scared to death, but he’s subdued. He can’t do anything to me now, so — so this is why I’m calling you,” Brandt told the 911 operator.
“If it was a total accident I wouldn’t be scared, but I know it was more than that,” Brandt said.
Brinster said in a statement to Fox News Digital that local officials “are grateful for the assistance in this investigation by North Dakota Highway Patrol, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Carrington Police Dept. and others.”
Brandt is due in court on August 8 for a sentencing hearing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The post Shannon Brandt pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of North Dakota teen appeared first on Fox News.