Full Illinois State Police reports shed little light on death of Dracy Pendleton

Full Illinois State Police reports shed little light on death of Dracy Pendleton

CHAMPAIGN — After losing an open-records request appeal, the Illinois State Police removed redactions from reports about techniques used during a 2016 shootout between SWAT teams and Dracy Pendleton.

But the additional details didn't reveal much more about the manhunt for Mr. Pendleton, who shot a Mahomet police officer May 7, 2016, after a traffic stop.

Eight days later, after a gunfight with FBI and state police SWAT teams in southern Illinois, a robot found Mr. Pendleton dead on the second floor of an abandoned house with an assault rifle.

Even after the ISP released some 1,200 pages of documents related to the manhunt last year, it remained unclear how exactly Mr. Pendleton died due to redactions made in the field reports about the final gunfight.

The News-Gazette appealed the redactions to the Illinois Attorney General's Public Access Counselor, who ruled that much of them were improper, including those about the techniques the ISP's SWAT team used.

"ISP's response to this office did not identify any unique or specialized investigative techniques in the responsive records other than those generally used and known," wrote Christopher Boggs, assistant attorney general for the public access bureau. "Some of the information ISP redacted consists of the basic facts of what transpired during the incident, which do not fall within the scope of any exemption."

But the unredacted version provided to The News-Gazette doesn't shed much more light on how Mr. Pendleton died, whether by SWAT teams or a self-inflicted shot.

An example of the same page from the two versions of the report is below. Move the slider to switch between them:

About 7 a.m. the day of the shootout, the FBI planned to clear the abandoned house, and at about 7:45 a.m., Mr. Pendleton shot an FBI SWAT member, according to the ISP field reports.

An ISP SWAT team drove an armored vehicle to the house to provide assistance, and at 7:57 a.m., Mr. Pendleton was spotted and more shooting ensued.

Some officers said they believed Mr. Pendleton was shooting at a medical helicopter that was approaching.

After officers saw more movement in the house, they shot again into the house and eventually heard nothing else.

In an interview with a lieutenant, one officer said that over the course of the gun battle, he "shot 18 rounds from his issued M-4 rifle, performed a reload, and fired an additional 4 rounds. ... He directed his shots at the windows and movement from within the house until he did not hear anymore gunfire or see any more movement."

This had been redacted, and was similar to other accounts of the end of the gunfight.

"I fired again in attempt to stop the threat. I did not see additional movement after this time," another agent wrote.

The injured FBI agent was eventually taken from the scene, and ISP SWAT members were relieved by FBI officers.

At the time, officials said they sent in a robot and found Mr. Pendleton dead on the second floor.

The field reports appear to confirm the coroner's ruling that the manner of death was a homicide.

The autopsy showed that Mr. Pendleton had 12 gunshot wounds, two of which were covered with Band-Aids, presumably from his initial scuffle with Mahomet police Officer Jeremy Scharlow.

After being shot in the arm, Scharlow never returned to work and was awarded a disability pension in April.

The News-Gazette has also submitted a request for documents to the FBI. The request hasn't been denied, but the newspaper hasn't yet received any documents.