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IA- Shooting victim was brother of well-known Sioux Cityan

10-6-2006 Iowa:

It was an older brother of a well-known East Middle School outreach worker who was shot by police officers Wednesday afternoon, and many questions surrounding his death remain unanswered.

The man, identified Thursday by Sioux City Police Chief Joe Frisbie as 30-year-old Ellis Parker, was shot several times after officers on scene said he charged at them while holding a bloody, 10-inch knife.

But Frisbie was silent on many aspects of the shooting, including which police officers were involved, because he said investigation into exactly how things happened is still under way.

"I have personally seen evidence, very definitive evidence, where Mr. Parker was advancing on the officers with a knife. That much I can say," he said. "We've talked to a lot of individuals in the trailer court and most of the information that we've received right now has been substantiating what we know."

Parker recently moved into the Regency Mobile Home Park, 4101 Gordon Drive, where the shooting took place, Frisbie said. He had lived much of his life in Des Moines, where he grew up with three younger brothers, including Tito Parker, outreach specialist at East Middle School through the Sanford Center's Gang Outreach Program. Tito Parker was selected by the Siouxland Red Cross as one of this year's Siouxland Hero Award winners.

Police and firefighters were called to Parker's mobile home, Lot 221, at 1:14 p.m. responding to a neighbor's report of flames shooting out of the residence, Frisbie said. Police officers arrived first on scene and saw a man, later identified as Parker, inside the trailer at the front window, he said. As officers attempted to come to Parker's aid, Frisbie said Parker broke through and came out the front window, brandishing the knife. Repeated commands to put down the knife were ignored, he said.

Frisbie said Parker advanced twice at officers, who fired at him both times. Frisbie would not say how many rounds were fired, but more than 10 markers were laid out Wednesday indicating shell casings or other evidence that needed to be processed. He refused to release the names of the officers involved, nor would he say how many responded to the fire call.

"We're still investigating who shot what," he said. "While we're trying to get these officers back to work, I don't want them getting hundreds of phone calls and letters."

Officers were 10 feet or less away from Parker when he was shot, Frisbie said. Emergency medical personnel who were on the scene gave him immediate medical treatment, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

Frisbie said he is still unsure where the blood on Parker's knife came from, as no person or animal was found inside the man's charred mobile home. The fire, which fire marshals have determined was intentionally set, consumed much of the home's contents. Firefighters couldn't fight the fire until they knew there was no longer a threat.

"As fast as a trailer fire moves, it's unlikely anyone else would have been responsible for it (than Parker)," Frisbie said.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation was put in charge of the investigation into Parker's death because of the officers' involvement, Frisbie said. The officers involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave, in keeping with department policy, he said.

"I have a lot of empathy for the officers and their families because nobody, nobody wants to take the life of another individual," he said. "These officers are truly victims in this situation."

Autopsy results on Parker won't be available from the Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office until at least Monday, Frisbie said.

"My understanding from the preliminary investigation and information I'm getting back from the DCI ... is that it looks like there was an appropriate use of force in this situation, but they won't make any final determination on this until later," Frisbie said. "They want to be very thorough, and you can understand why they don't want to make statements without knowing everything they could honestly know about this situation before they make that conclusion."

Toxicology results that would show whether Parker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting will also take some time to come back, he said.

"It would be total conjecture on our part at this point to say anything," Frisbie said.

'He was an honorable man'

When it came to the issue of Ellis Allen Parker's history, Frisbie clearly held back on his response.

"There's a lot of things I know about Ellis Parker," he said. "I don't think it would be in the best interest of the investigation at this point to talk abut historical things. We need to focus on the crime at hand right now."

However, a look into Parker's criminal record shows five serious convictions, including one for escape from custody in 2002 and one for third-degree sexual abuse in 1998. He was released from the Newton (Iowa) Correctional Facility, a medium-security facility, in July of this year after serving time on two 2005 charges of assault causing injury to a peace officer and others.

Frisbie did not say whether officers knew Parker's background when they responded to the fire call.

But Tito Parker said Thursday that his brother's history doesn't matter to him. Ellis was "an honorable man," he said, and his life will be mourned.

"Everything I did and accomplished is because of this man," Tito Parker said. "He taught me what I know and who I am. If people want to say bad things about him, then they can say them about me too, because you don't get me without him." ..more.. by Alicia Ebaugh, Journal staff writer

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