A Sheridan County coroner’s inquest last week found that the shooting death of a man outside a Plentywood casino by a sheriff’s deputy in July was justified.
A jury of four women and three men ruled on Feb. 19 that the death of Bryan Reyes Havard, 27, on July 7 was due to “justifiable homicide,” said Coroner David G. Fulkerson.
Pathologist Dr. Tom Bennett testified that Harvard died of gunshots fired by Deputy Heidi Williamson. Other witnesses and evidence included a patrol car video and audio recording, security camera video from the night club, friends of Havard, an expert on the use of force, an investigator from the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Undersheriff Scott Nelson, Sheriff Patrick Ulrickson, Williamson and two bystanders who witnessed the incident.
Havard, a Philippines native who worked in Montana’s oil fields, led two sheriff’s deputies on high-speed chase after the deputies attempted to stop him about midnight for speeding in Plentywood.
The chase ended at the Blue Moon nightclub about a mile east of Plentywood. Havard left his vehicle and confronted the deputies several times inside and outside the casino.
Havard seized Williamson and attempted to use the deputy as a hostage and human shield while threatening her, the undersheriff and others with a loaded .45-caliber pistol, Fulkerson said in a news release. Williamson drew her .40-caliber service gun and fired three shots, killing Havard, he said.