After more than 20 years of fighting to reopen the case on her son’s death, Dorothy Elliott finally got an extended meeting with the Prince George’s County state’s attorney — but the answer was still the same. The county won’t take another look at the case.
Elliott, of Forestville met Sept. 11 with county State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, who denied Elliott’s request to reopen the case on her son, Elliott said.
Archie Elliott III, 24, of Forestville was shot by Prince George’s police officer Wayne Cheney and District Heights police officer Jason Leavitt after they claimed he attempted to fire a gun at them while handcuffed in the front seat of a police cruiser. Archie Elliott had been handcuffed and placed into the car after being pulled over for drunk driving, according to police. He was hit 14 times after the officers fired 22 bullets from their handguns. Both officers were not indicted in 1994 after a seventh-month investigation.
“We believe these police officers should be indicted,” Dorothy Elliott said.
Elliott and her supporters were granted the meeting after they submitted a petition to reopen the case with more than 1,200 signatures, Elliott said. Elliott had previously petitioned former county state’s attorney Jack Johnson to reopen the case after the officers were not indicted, but Johnson wouldn’t reopen the case, she said.
Elliott said her dispute is that Archie Elliott was not armed when he was shot and that police covered up his death.
During the meeting, Elliott and her supporters, calling themselves the Committee for Justice for Archie Elliott III, presented witnesses’ statements that allegedly contradicted the officers’ statements and other witness statements regarding seeing Archie Elliott with a gun in his hand after he was shot, according to a case analysis submitted by Thomas Ruffin, a lawyer assisting Elliott.
Alsobrooks’ spokesman John Erzen said the state’s attorney disagreed with Ruffin’s analysis of the case and stated they didn’t provide new evidence that would warrant reopening the case.
“What we would have needed to see today would have been new evidence that did not exist prior to the case going through the grand jury,” Erzen said.
This was the first substantive meeting Elliott said she has had with a county state’s attorney. Johnson met with Elliott briefly, but that meeting didn’t have her supporters and didn’t allow for exchanging information.
Elliott has also made other attempts to get the officers indicted — she filed a civil suit against the officers for excessive force, but that case was dismissed in 1996, according to court documents. Since her son’s death, she has been an activist against police violence, working with documentary filmmakers and making public speeches.
Elliott plans to continue the fight to open the case, and she said she has some options on the table, but she wouldn’t comment on the specifics of her next step.
“I much rather would have seen my son in jail and visited him there instead of a lifetime of him not being here,” Elliott said. “It looks like the police get away with killing people without any repercussion or accountability ever.”
Erzen said the state’s attorney said although they couldn’t open Elliott’s case, they will continue to crack down when police abuse their power.
“While it doesn’t change what happened to her son, it doesn’t bring him back, things are significantly different now than they were 20 years ago,” Erzen said. “If new evidence was provided to us from this case, potentially it could move things forward.”