It was Breann Leath’s lifelong goal to become a police officer, keeping with the family tradition of public service.
And she did, serving as an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer — but for only 2 1/2 years.
Leath was shot and killed April 9 while responding to a domestic violence incident at an east side apartment complex. She was 24 years old.
Leath and three other officers on the East District responded to the incident at an apartment at 1803 Edinburge Square around 2:45 p.m. Officers knocked on the door, according to IMPD Chief Randal Taylor, and shots fired through the structure, hitting Leath.
She was transported to Eskenazi Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
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At a press briefing outside of the hospital, city and IMPD officials described Leath as a caring and passionate officer. She was a mother to a young child and graduated from Southport High School. Leath was also a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, Taylor said.
Her father is currently a deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, and her mother was a longtime public safety dispatcher, police said.
“For so many of us, danger is a thing to be avoided,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said. “Not so for officer Breann Leath. That’s because rather than turn away, officer Leath turned toward the danger. She heard the call, and she went bravely toward that which could do her harm.”
Police said one other person was shot but that the injuries did not appear to be life threatening.
Police arrested 27-year-old Elliahs Dorsey on preliminary charges of murder and attempted murder.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement he and first lady Janet Holcomb are heartbroken for Leath’s family and IMPD.
“Officer Leath gave her life as she answered the call of duty,” Holcomb said. “… I ask every Hoosier to join me in honoring Officer Leath’s courageous service and dedication to her community. She will be forever remembered for being the finest among us.”
Officer Leath’s death sent an already somber city into mourning.
Hogsett, along with Taylor and other city officials, approached the podium at Eskenazi Hospital wearing face masks, a reminder that Leath was killed while fulfilling her duty during a public health crisis.
The city already planned to light the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and other buildings blue later in the day to honor first responders working during the COVID-19 outbreak, and Hogsett urged people to also take that time to remember Leath.
“Light a candle, say a prayer, hug your family,” Hogsett said. “And in that moment, remember how lucky we are to have brave men and brave women like officer Leath.”
Indianapolis City-County President Vop Osili said in a statement Leath “represented the best of us” through her service.
“In a time when most of us are seeking safety in the refuge of our own homes,” he said, “Breann put her life in danger to secure the safety of others — and called it her ‘dream job.’”
Congressman André Carson said his staff is available to assist Leath’s family and IMPD during this difficult time.
“She died serving her community, and keeping her fellow Hoosiers safe,” he said in a statement. “I pray that her loved ones take solace in that fact.”
Details from 911 call, officer Leath’s death
Police arrested 27-year-old Elliahs Dorsey, who is charged with one count of murder, four counts of attempted murder, one count of criminal confinement and one count of battery resulting in bodily injury.
Police were dispatched to 1803 Edinburge Square at 2:47 p.m. following a 911 call made by a woman who was with Dorsey, according to a probable cause affidavit filed April 14. The apartment belonged to the woman, and Dorsey had stayed over the previous night.
The woman called police because she said Dorsey was talking about someone trying to kill him, and he began walking around with a pistol. At one point, Dorsey covered the woman’s mouth, according to the affidavit, and she bit him.
Dorsey initially took the phone from the woman when she called 911, and he told the dispatcher someone is trying to kill him and he “isn’t paranoid about it,” according to the affidavit. The dispatcher asked if he wanted to go to the hospital, and Dorsey said no.
The woman was able to get her phone back and give the dispatcher her apartment number.
Four officers, including Leath, arrived at the apartment at 2:51 p.m.
There were two knocks on the door, according to the affidavit. The woman walked toward the door, but Dorsey grabbed her.
“That ain’t the police,” he said and he started firing at the door.
A preliminary affidavit released April 13 said Leath died from two shots to the head.
The three officers retreated down the stairs after shots were fired. One officer saw Leath on the ground, according to the affidavit, but wasn’t able to bring her.
Dorsey let go of the woman, who made it out of the apartment before he shot her four times. She called 911 again.
Police arrested Dorsey in the apartment at 3 p.m., and officer Leath was retrieved and taken to Eskenazi Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 3:24 p.m, 37 minutes after police were dispatched to the apartment.
The other woman Dorsey shot was taken to Methodist Hospital.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.