Deputy found justified in fatal shooting last month

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – A grand jury has found an Orleans County deputy was justified in the fatal shooting of a Wyoming County man who led police on a high-speed chase and then opened fire on responding officers on March 21.

The grand jury this afternoon no-billed Deputy James DeFilipps, finding insufficient evidence that he committed a crime.

DeFilipps was shot twice in the abdomen by James Ellis, 44, of Wyoming. A bullet proof vest may have saved DeFilipps’s life. He suffered deep bruises and is recovering from his injuries.

Ellis was involved in a domestic disturbance prior to the shooting on March 21. He was at an ex-girlfriend’s house in Shelby. Her friends were concerned and called 911 at 2:46 a.m. to report the incident, saying that Ellis had a gun. Police discovered later it was a stolen handgun.

The Sheriff’s Department and State Police were given a vehicle and suspect description. The vehicle was observed eastbound on Route 31A in the Town of Albion. Officers were unable to maintain visual contact with the vehicle due to the suspect’s high rate of speed, Sheriff Scott Hess said at a news conference on March 21.

Responding officers located the vehicle on Route 31A in the Town of Clarendon. DeFilipps was on duty working in the east end of Orleans County.

After Ellis crashed his vehicle, striking a telephone pole, he fled to a wooded area with a .45 caliber handgun. He started firing at responding officers when they reached the scene, a dark stretch of Route 31A, Chief Deputy Tom Drennan said at the news conference on March 21.

The officers couldn’t see Ellis, but heard his gun shots and could tell the bullets were close, Drennan said.

Deputy DeFilipps took cover behind his patrol vehicle, then took further cover into a wooded area near the road. While proceeding to the wooded area, DeFilipps confronted Ellis a short distance away. Ellis shot the deputy twice in the abdomen. DeFilipps returned fire with his weapon, killing Ellis, Hess said.

“The whole thing lasted seconds,” Drennan said during the news conference.

The 23-member grand jury met on Thursday and reviewed the evidence in the case.

“The grand jury heard the evidence and decided not to charge Deputy DeFilipps,” District Attorney Joe Cardone said.