Man accused of killing cop says he was afraid for his life
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A man charged with killing his mom and a North Dakota police officer during a shootout with law enforcement who were serving eviction papers told a jury Monday that he feared for his life and didn’t mean to kill anyone.
Salamah Pendleton, 42, faces two counts of murder for the deaths of Lola Moore and Grand Forks police Officer Cody Holte in a May 2020 shootout at the apartment Pendleton shared with his mom. Investigators say Moore was shot when Pendleton exchanged gunfire with law enforcement.
Pendleton admitted that his bullet killed his mother, calling it a ricochet. He told jurors he then wanted to surrender to law enforcement but that he wasn’t thinking clearly after seeing his mother’s body. Holte was killed in a subsequent exchange of gunfire.
Police body camera footage recorded Pendleton screaming several times that police killed his mother.
“You broke into my apartment, you’re breaking in, and you’re trying to kill us,” he can be heard saying as officers attempt to negotiate with him. ”I have the right to defend myself and my family in my home.”
The shooting began after two Grand Forks County deputies attempted to enforce an eviction on Pendleton and his mother for not paying rent.
During the first volley, a bullet from Pendleton’s semi-automatic rifle penetrated a bedroom wall and struck Moore.
Holte and another Grand Forks police officer then arrived, at which time law enforcement began negotiating with Pendleton to give up.
“I was afraid for my life,” Pendleton testified Monday during the livestreamed trial. “I was traumatized. I lost my mind and I didn’t know what to do,” Pendleton said.
Court documents state that Pendleton eventually rushed out of the bedroom and unleashed another round of gunfire. The exchange killed Holte and left Grand Forks Sheriff’s Deputy Ron Nord and Pendleton wounded.
Pendleton told jurors that he was aiming for the officers’ legs but that his vision was impaired because he wasn’t wearing his glasses.
“I wasn’t intending to kill anyone,” he said.
Closing arguments are scheduled Tuesday.
Pendleton is also charged with three counts of attempted murder, criminal mischief, terrorizing, reckless endangerment and possession with intent to deliver marijuana, after officers found large quantities of the drug, paraphernalia and cash in the apartment. He faces life in prison without parole.
Pendleton has an extensive record that includes dozens of offenses in the last 20 years, including interfering with police and harassing public officials. He has been arrested numerous times for driving under suspension and driving without insurance, including last year Grand Forks.
Holte, 29, was the first officer to be killed in Grand Forks since 1966 and the 58th police officer in the state to die while on duty.