Man killed in officer-involved shooting was suspect in earlier robbery

2014-04-15T05:15:00Z 2014-05-16T15:09:16Z Man killed in officer-involved shooting was suspect in earlier robberyThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 15, 2014 5:15 am  • 

Richard Ramirez, 38, has been identified as the man who died in an officer-involved shooting Monday night, according to Billings Police Chief Rich St. John. 

Ramirez had been riding in a car with three other people in the area of Fifth Avenue South and State Avenue, St. John said during a press conference Tuesday morning at City Hall.

Police were looking for Ramirez as a suspect in a robbery in which a 61-year-old man had been shot in the arm Sunday. The victim in that shooting had identified Ramirez as the shooter.

At about 11 p.m. Monday, the officer was in the area of the robbery when he spotted a car with Ramirez in the back seat and pulled it over in an alley.

The officer, without backup, approached the vehicle from the right side and opened the door to talk with Ramirez, St. John said.

After ignoring the officer's commands to not move and keep his hands in sight, St. John said Ramirez made a "downward reaching movement."

"This movement resulted in the officer drawing his weapon and firing three rounds, striking Ramirez in the torso," St. John said.

What Ramirez was reaching for is unclear, and is under investigation. No weapon was found on him.

"The vehicle was impounded pending a search of the vehicle," St. John said. A warrant to search the vehicle will be obtained and executed Tuesday.

Ramirez was treated at the scene and taken to Billings Clinic, where he died from his wounds, St. John said.

A coroner's inquest will be held as required by state law whenever an officer is involved in a fatal shooting.

The police officer who discharged his weapon has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. 

St. John said that the name of the officer involved is not being released, because the police have received overt threats since the shooting.

The officer's name won't be released until those threats have been investigated, St. John said. The officer is a five-year veteran of the department. 

A search of county records indicates Ramirez has previous convictions for felony possession of dangerous drugs.

Ramirez's death marks the fifth officer-involved shooting in Billings over a span of just under two years.

An inquest is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday in a fatal July 5 shooting by a Yellowstone County sheriff's deputy outside a Billings shopping center. In that case, Sheriff's Lt. Shane Skillen shot 42-year-old Dean Randolph Jess days after Jess escaped from the state prison in Deer Lodge. Jess was in a stolen vehicle and was shot after he made a move for a gun during a standoff with law enforcement.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said he expects 11 people, including witnesses and Skillen, to testify at Wednesday's inquest, which will be held at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. He said he hopes the inquest will finish by the end of Wednesday.

Since May 2012, there have been three other fatal shootings involving Billings police officers. Each was ruled to be justified during subsequent coroner's inquests.


A Billings Police officer shot and killed a man during a traffic stop on the South Side on Monday evening. 

According to a news release from BPD Chief Rich St. John, an officer was in the area of Fifth Avenue South and South 33rd Street at about 11 p.m. looking for a suspect in an armed robbery that happened on Sunday. 

In that robbery, the victim was shot in the arm.

"The officer saw a red passenger car leaving the area with four occupants," according to the release. "Further, the officer saw that the robbery suspect was sitting in the right rear."

The officer, whose name has not been released, followed the car to the area of Fifth Avenue South and State Avenue where he initiated a traffic stop in an alley.

The officer approached the vehicle from the right side and opened the door to talk with the suspect.

"Preliminary information investigation suggests that suspect failed to obey the orders of the officer and made a threatening movement which resulted in the officer drawing his weapon and firing multiple rounds," St. John said. 

The suspect was treated at the scene and taken to Billings Clinic where he died.

The investigation is continuing, and the name of the man has not been released pending notification of family.

A press conference is set for 10 a.m. at city hall.

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

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