Coroner's inquest set in fatal police shooting

2013-08-07T11:09:00Z 2014-04-16T10:58:14Z Coroner's inquest set in fatal police shootingBy GREG TUTTLE The Billings Gazette

The Yellowstone County Attorney's Office will convene a coroner's inquest next week to examine the fatal shooting of a 32-year-old Billings man.

Jason James Shaw was shot and killed by Billings Police Officer Grant Morrison on Feb. 11. An autopsy determined Shaw died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

A coroner's inquest is required under state law whenever law enforcement is involved in a death.

The inquest is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in a courtroom at the Yellowstone County Detention Center. The hearing is expected to last into Wednesday.

Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis will preside over the hearing, which will include a six-member jury who will provide an advisory verdict on whether the shooting was justified.

According to previous police accounts, Morrison encountered Shaw on Custer Avenue at about 1:25 a.m. Officers were in the area searching for a person who ran from police, and Shaw and three other people were spotted in a car parked in the area.

As Morrison approached the car, Shaw got out of a rear passenger door and, police said, refused to follow the officer's instructions.

Morrison attempted to subdue Shaw with a Taser, but the device was not effective.

Morrison said Shaw then reached into his pocket for a handgun. Morrison shot Shaw, striking him once in the abdomen, police said.

Shaw died a short time later at St. Vincent Healthcare. 

Shaw's firearm turned out to be a BB gun replica of a Walter P99 handgun.

Shaw worked as a clerk at a Lockwood convenience store. He had a criminal record that included felony convictions for theft, criminal endangerment and criminal mischief.        

Four other coroner's inquest hearings are pending in Yellowstone County, including the suicide of county jail inmate Steven Tyler Russo in June.

Other pending inquest hearings include the Jan. 6 shooting death of Daniel Brawley by a Billings police officer; the May 17 shooting death of Thomas Hilger in Worden by a sheriff's deputy; and the July 5 shooting death by a sheriff's deputy near the West End Walmart of Montana State Prison escaped inmate Dean Randolph Jess.

No dates have been set in any of those pending inquest hearings.  


Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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