GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks police on Thursday, July 18, released body camera and dashcam video from a parking lot scuffle that ended with a stolen police cruiser crashing head-on into a semi on Interstate 29.
The May 6 incident started in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree off South Washington Street when 33-year-old Jordan Poitra called 911.
Body camera footage released by the Grand Forks Police Department shows Poitra talking with officers about a stolen pickup truck. When officers ask him to get into a police cruiser, he complies.
When officers learn he has warrants and try to arrest him, Poitra escapes from the cruiser. He can be seen in the video trying to grab one of the officer's guns in an attempt to kill himself.
Officers then try to subdue Poitra with a stun gun, but his thick jacket prevents it from stopping him. He then removes the jacket and sprints for a nearby cruiser that still had its keys in the ignition.
The cruiser's dashcam video shows Poitra's three-minute drive through the city. Poitra is seen in the video dodging cars, driving on the sidewalk and blowing through several red lights. At times, Poitra drives down the centerline in between traffic and also drives in the wrong lane.
Poitra eventually drives through a field and breaks through a fence near the Alerus Center to get onto I-29. He drives across the interstate and soon slams head-on into a semi-truck.
"At times like this we have a very difficult time of answering why," said Lt. Derik Zimmel with the Grand Forks Police Department.
After two months of investigating, Grand Forks police closed the case Thursday with that question unanswered. They also reviewed the actions of the officers and determined they did not break any department policies and that no policy changes are needed.
"There was tragedy involved here, we are always striving to learn ways to be better. I think there are certain takeaways from this that we can incorporate into training, we always want to learn ways to be better," Lt. Zimmel said.
Poitra leaves behind a wife and six kids. His widow says this is still very hard on the family, and they love and miss him as each day passes.