In the early morning hours of November 7, 2015, Officer David Ellerman approached the Oregon Health and Science University Police Department’s Vehicle Investigations and Training Center.
He pulled out a smartphone, and on a whim, pulled up a recording of the officer’s call to dispatch.
A few minutes later, Ellermans phone rang, and he answered it.
“You’re in a car accident, and the car was on fire, so I’m going to need to get out of here,” Eller man said.
“We can’t get you out of there.”
Ellermen, who had been assigned to the vehicle investigation unit, was assigned to work the crash scene.
“The whole time he was talking to me, he was looking at me, but he was actually staring at me and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Eulerman says.
“I said, ‘No, no, no.
It’s okay, David, it’s OK.'”
Ellermann says he was concerned for his safety, and that he didn’t want to run into the officer.
But when the dispatcher said he needed to get away from the car, Ellers face changed.
“And I thought, oh, shit, this is crazy,” Ellers father says.
Eller was assigned the vehicle safety unit in 2013, and had been working for the department since 2010.
During the investigation, Eulermans supervisor had told Eller that the department needed him to help in a fatal car crash, but Eller didn’t know that until the day after.
“My boss told me that he was going to get an email and say that he had been killed,” Eilerman says, referring to Eller’s supervisor.
The message came from a supervisor who said that he’d been fired.
He didn’t elaborate.
The day after Eller, who was in his first year of service, was killed, the department issued a statement on the investigation saying, “As of this afternoon, Officer Eller is no longer with the department.”
The next day, a new investigation concluded that Eller had been acting appropriately when he went to investigate the accident.
Ellers family members are now demanding answers.
“This is a tragedy,” says the mother of one of the three young children in the family, who declined to give her last name for fear of reprisals.
“But I can’t think of another officer that was so willing to die for his job that would do that.”
The Ellermans are asking the Oregon Legislature for the right to sue the Oregon State Police, which owns the vehicle, and have the investigation cleared, in part because the department has failed to notify the family of the outcome of the investigation.
The investigation began after a crash in October 2016 in which Eller died.
Investigators said that the crash had started when a car was traveling at about 80 miles per hour on Interstate 5.
A passenger was ejected from the vehicle after the crash, and investigators said that they had video of the driver being dragged.
They said the driver was later found to be “not wearing a seat belt” at the time of the crash.
The video also showed that the driver had been wearing a helmet when the crash occurred.
“They told me, ‘You were not wearing a head harness.
That’s why you were in the car,'” Eller said.
The department said that it would investigate and that it will “take the appropriate actions” in the future.
Euler said that his son, who attended OHSU, wanted to be a police chief.
He says that he is trying to get his son’s story out.
“That’s the only way I can make my son’s name known,” he said.
But Eller says that the investigation was closed, and his family is not allowed to speak to anyone.
“All I know is that my son didn’t die on his watch,” Elerman says of his son.
“He didn’t get shot, and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m lying to them.
I didn’t make the decision to kill my son.”