United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Michael Ellis, 51, of Omaha, was sentenced today in federal court in Omaha to 12 months’ imprisonment, the maximum possible sentence, for Assaulting, Resisting, Opposing, Impeding, Intimidating, and Interfering with a federal officer by United States Magistrate Judge Susan M. Bazis. There is no parole in the federal system. After his release from imprisonment, Ellis will serve a 1-year term of supervised release.
On August 10, 2019, a Federal Wildlife Officer was in uniform and driving a marked United States Fish and Wildlife Services vehicle while patrolling the Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge. The officer observed Ellis’s vehicle driving on a portion of County Road P51 on the Wildlife Refuge that had been closed due to flooding. The officer stopped Ellis’s vehicle. The officer walked up to the driver’s side and spoke with Ellis, who was the driver. The officer observed open containers of beer in the cup holders of the center console. The officer asked Ellis to turn off his vehicle and requested his identification. Ellis did neither and instead took off his seat belt. Ellis eventually provided the officer with his Nebraska Identification card. The officer told Ellis he was trespassing and Ellis stated that the road closed sign did not say “no trespassing.” A records check indicated that Ellis did not have a valid driver’s license. The officer asked Ellis if he had any weapons in the vehicle and Ellis stated he had knives. The officer requested a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy to come to the scene and Ellis stated “man, I’m taking off…” and “I ain’t going to [expletive] jail again, dude.” The officer ordered Ellis out of the vehicle and Ellis refused to comply. The officer then attempted to remove Ellis from the vehicle and Ellis pulled away from the officer and pulled his arms away from the officer while the officer tried to handcuff Ellis. Ellis kept reaching toward his waist as he was struggling with the officer. During this, Ellis stated, “you ain’t putting them damn [handcuffs] on me.” The officer was able to handcuff one of Ellis’s wrists, but due to Ellis pulling away was unable to handcuff Ellis’s second wrist. The officer then pinned Ellis against Ellis’s vehicle while waiting for a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy to arrive. During this time, Ellis stated to the officer, “You don’t understand man, you’re [expletive] with one of the North Omaha boys,” that he has “done all kinds of dirty work,” and “you’re done.” Upon the second officer arriving, Ellis’ second wrist was able to be handcuffed. During a search of Ellis, multiple knives were found in a case on Ellis’s belt, from Ellis’s waistband, and in Ellis’s pockets.
Ellis is a five-time convicted felon with an extensive criminal history dating back 30 years that includes assaultive behavior and carrying knives. Magistrate Judge Bazis when imposing this maximum possible sentence noted that Ellis’s behavior on August 10 put both himself and the officer in danger. Magistrate Judge Bazis also noted the dangers faced by Federal Wildlife Service Officers who work in remote areas with little to no backup readily available to them if they need help in situations like these. In this case Washington County Sheriff deputies had to leave their normal patrol areas to assist and one off-duty officer was eating dinner and left his personal residence to come to the scene to assist.
This case was investigated by United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington County Sheriff’s Office.