Jury Acquits Career Criminal Who Confessed To Shooting Deputy During Drug Raid

E.F. Fitchpatrick claimed he thought he was firing at gang members who were trying to rob him.

Pineville, MO – A career criminal and self-proclaimed drug dealer who confessed to having shot a Jasper County sheriff’s deputy in the chest during a drug raid was acquitted by a jury on Tuesday.

Convicted felon E.F. Fitchpatrick, 46, said he thought he was shooting at gang members who he believed were trying to rob him, and that he didn’t realize it was the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team outside his hotel room door, The Joplin Globe reported.

“I’m saying I felt justified in shooting someone who was out to harm me,” Fitchpatrick testified.

Prosecutor Jake Skouby adamantly disputed the defense’s allegations that the specialized drug task force team failed to announce themselves as law enforcement.

If the jury was to believe Fitchpatrick, they would also have to believe that every single one of the officers involved in the raid had lied to the court, Skouby said.

After just one hour and 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury found the armed convict not guilty of armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon, according to KOAM.

The near-fatal altercation occurred at the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites on South Range Line Road on March 1, 2017, The Joplin Globe reported.

Fitchpatrick, a self-proclaimed addict and drug dealer who spent his entire life bouncing in and out of prison, said he had been living in hotels while peddling methamphetamine when the incident occurred.

About two weeks before the shooting, he teamed up with an old prison buddy and two women to sell the meth more quickly, but one of the women became upset after she believed she wasn’t getting her fair share, according to his attorney.

When she stormed out of the hotel, she threatened that there would be “repercussions” doled out by the Joplin Honkies gang, Fitchpatrick claimed.

He testified that when he heard a knock on his door later in the day, he figured the woman had followed through with her threat and that the gang members had come to rob him.

Fitchpatrick claimed that the person on the other side of the door identified himself as a hotel maintenance worker, so he stuffed his drugs and a bag of approximately $9,000 cash into the bathroom and grabbed his gun.

He had two bullets.

When the room key the hotel had given the narcotics officers failed to work, Jasper County Sheriff’s Deputy Nolan Murray broke out a window to gain entry to the room, The Joplin Globe reported.

But as the glass shattered, the armed felon fired his weapon, striking Deputy Murray, 29, in the chest.

Although the deputy was wearing a ballistic vest, the bullet passed through his lung, then lodged in his back.

“I just fired blindly,” Fitchpatrick testified.

He claimed he “would have opened the door” if he knew narcotics officers were on the other side, The Joplin Globe reported.

The officers had tried to take the door down with a ramming device at one point, but the convicted felon claimed he never heard the officers announce that they were law enforcement.

He said he didn’t realize who the men were until they fired a “flash bang” and deployed tear gas into the room.

Once he knew he was dealing with the police, Fitchpatrick went into the bathroom and flushed the rest of his methamphetamine down the toilet.

The then jumped into the shower to try to get the chemical agent from the tear gas off of him, then sat on the toilet and shot himself under his chin.

The round passed through his mouth and out his face, and he eventually stumbled out of the hotel room and was taken into custody.

Fitchpatrick told the jury that he remained in a coma for 15 days, and that he was released from the hospital about a month after he shot Deputy Murray.

His attorney, William Fleischaker, said that the officers were unable to recall which of them announced that they were law enforcement during the raid, and noted that they said they had done it as a group, just as they always did.

Surveillance footage captured portions of the raid, but the officers couldn’t be heard announcing themselves in those clips, The Joplin Globe reported.

"If they didn't [identify themselves], everything [the defendant] told you makes sense," Fleischaker alleged.

The defense attorney further claimed that Fitchpatrick had taken responsibility for the situation because he pleaded guilty to an additional count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

"He's not taking responsibility," Skouby argued. "That's a minor charge compared to what he's being tried on."

But the jurors were aware that Fitchpatrick faced up to 10 years in prison on the charge he pleaded guilty to, which may have worked in his favor, the prosecutor later said.

Fitchpatrick was on both federal probation and state parole at the time of the shooting, according to the Devils Lake Journal.

He was previously convicted of vehicle tampering, forgery, and weapons and drug-related offenses, and his probation has been revoked in the past.

Fitchpatrick is due to be sentenced for unlawful possession of a firearm on Aug. 26, according to KOAM.

Comments (56)
No. 1-19
Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

This story shows why it is important to announce, and to announce so that the person on the other side of the door can hear and understand and believe you. Hopefully, the team will train on the issue of bodycamming these raids so that people don't think they are lying when they testify in court about how great the announcement was!

THIS IS AN OFFICER SAFETY ISSUE!

Also, best to use a megaphone if your department has one (and most departments do).

1sam80
1sam80

Shut up troll scum

Babysitter
Babysitter

Regardless he is a convicted felon with a firearm.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

I hate to agree with our resident troll, but he's right on one count: video and audio evidence would have convicted this POS. Without body cam evidence, it's a question for the jury to decide, which is tough since the officers couldn't recall who had announced themselves. And I don't believe for a second that he would have simply opened the door if they had announced they were cops.

Everything else he said is a load of crap, but in an age where cell phone videos are uploaded to youtube and used to crucify officers because only half the story is told, body cams clear more good officers of wrongdoing than jam them up.

Teijeiro2
Teijeiro2

INSANITY! We need to release the names of the jurors so that the Police can REFUSE to show up when they call for help. After all, they too might think the cops are COMPETING DRUG DEALERS.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

ALSO: this announcing "as a group" tactic needs to go. The police are never in unison and, accordingly, it makes the announcement difficult to understand -- it just sounds like a ruckus. Again, If the police just bring a single megaphone, then they will know exactly who is making the announcement, specifically, the officer who has the megaphone!

Piewacket
Piewacket

What the hell was this scum doing out of prison in the first place? Going to be sentenced for unlawful possession of a firearm? What about shooting a police officer? I call bullshit, I didn't know who I was shooting at? Really? Out on parole and right back to selling drugs!!! What a pos! Why isn't he doing hard time for selling drugs AGAIN??!! He's a waste of space!

Deputy-Dawg
Deputy-Dawg

Sometimes laws work in favor of the worst criminals. Too bad the Announcement was not recorded. I'm almost positive they announced as that is the way they train but there is no proof and the jury believed the criminal, not the law enforcement. Sad day. God will make it right.

ChiefC
ChiefC

He was a convicted felon. He had an illegal weapon. He shot the weapon. It doesn’t matter what he claims he didn’t hear. He admitted he thought he was defending himself against other drug dealers. I am going to guess that this county is a left wing liberal progressive socialist America hating democrat controlled county.

Pacho
Pacho

A technisim will let free a criminal dude ? Insanity ans sissies are the rulers, eh ?

TrueAmerican
TrueAmerican

What pisses me off is that jury had to believe every one of the LEO's involved in that raid had to have LIED!!! SMFH 💩🤦🏼

Raymelson
Raymelson

Not sure about this but it doesn't sound right I think it should go on to a higher court

Stanracer
Stanracer

It's to bad that the jury believed a convicted felon drug dealer over the police. They had an opportunity to put this thug away for a very long time and blew it. It appears the war on the police has extended to the courtroom. This is one of the reasons I do not believe in the jury system. Hopefully the case will be appealed to a higher court.

BlueLM101
BlueLM101

"After just one hour and 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury found the armed convict not guilty of armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon"

I don't understand this... He was a felon and admitted to and was found to have in his possession, a firearm. By law he is prohibited from owning. That alone should have been an automatic conviction. The only conclusion I can draw upon is that this jury was inept.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

The defense played three video clips of the incident at the motel that were captured on a cellphone by a motel employee. The quality of the audio of the clips is poor, but the defense had experts remove background noise and played the doctored versions for the jury along with the original clips.

The really smart defense atty pointed out during closing arguments that while you can hear police ramming the door and the sound of the window glass breaking, you "don't hear people shouting: 'Law enforcement!' and 'We're here to serve a search warrant.'"

61mouse
61mouse

Why and how did he have agun with his history

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

I always side with law enforcement, but from what I gathered from the article, the guy was within his rights to shoot. Regardless of what was said outside the door, if they had the wrong key and smashed a window, any normal person would rightly assume a criminal was breaking in. Cops break down doors, not bust in windows. Secondly, if he was a meth dealer he must have had blinds, making it impossible to see who he was shooting at. I'm sure he will go away for a long time on all the other charges, but I think there is a lesson to be learned here. Always bring a door smasher to a raid. It stands to reason a meth dealer would change his front door lock, so anyone with access to the master key can't rob him.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Another wrinkle to this story that some seem to be missing is that the policemen initially lied and said that they were maintenance workers. It is not clear as to whether the resident of the room heard this lie. Assuming he did hear it, and even further assuming they later announced "POLICE" (which it seems like they did NOT from the audio recording), how is the resident going to believe that they are police after they lied about who they were already?

LoveFerguson
LoveFerguson

Maybe the professional criminal can clean the wax out of his ears. Criminals always lie.