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Stephen J. Lee, Forum Communications Co., Published September 30 2011

Burleigh County deputy who died on duty grew up in Northwood

GRAND FORKS – The sheriff’s deputy in Bismarck who died Wednesday during a confrontation with a drunken driver resisting arrest was born in Grafton and grew up in Northwood.

Bryan Sleeper, 39, of Lincoln, died in the line of duty Wednesday as a deputy with the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department.

Sleeper died shortly after handcuffing a man early Wednesday who later was charged with drunken driving and resisting arrest.

Preliminary autopsy results indicate he died of a heart attack, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Sleeper had been with the sheriff’s department about 3½ years. In 2007, he was one of several deputies given the state’s Peace Officers Association life-saving award for saving a man’s life during a suicide attempt.

Sheriff Pat Heinert said Thursday that law enforcement has become more dangerous, referring not only to Sleeper’s death but to the July killing of a Bismarck police officer by a suspect.

“People have an attitude in Bismarck that this is Mayberry, and it’s not,” Heinert said at a news conference, according to The Bismarck Tribune. “The city has changed. ... It’s a dangerous line of work.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a statement Thursday expressing condolences to Sleeper’s family, friends and law enforcement colleagues.

His funeral will be 10 a.m. Tuesday in Trinity Lutheran Church, Bismarck.

Born Oct. 18, 1971, in Grafton, Sleeper grew up in Northwood, graduating from high school there in 1990.

He wrestled six years for the Hatton-Northwood wrestling team, qualifying three times for the state tournament, placing fourth his senior year, according to his obituary.

He also wrestled for the University of Mary in Bismarck.

He worked at the state prison from 1999-2006 and for a rural fire department near Bismarck before taking the job with the sheriff’s department.

His survivors include his wife, Lana, and their sons, Branden Eisenbeis, Mandan, Jeremy Eisenbeis, Bismarck, daughter Heather Eisenbeis, Lincoln and grandson, Hunter Eisenbeis, Mandan; his father and stepmother, James and Kathy Sleeper, Northwood; his mother and stepfather, Mary Ellen and Mike Prewedo, Moorhead; and six sisters.


Stephen J. Lee writes for the Grand Forks Herald.