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Lazy K-T shooting

Bullet holes can been seen in the door of a truck in the parking lot of the Lazy K-T motel in Billings on October 19, 2017. The passenger of the truck, who brandished a shotgun, was shot by Billings police officers after he pointed the weapon at them.

Roderick Little Bear, the man shot by police in a confrontation outside the Lazy K-T Motel in October, is being held at the infirmary at Montana State Prison on charges unrelated to the incident.

The man’s identity was confirmed in a probation violation report filed in Yellowstone County District Court on Oct. 25, 2017. The motel shooting took place Oct. 18.

In the weeks before the shooting, Little Bear, born in 1981, had relapsed into meth use and missed appointments with his probation officer in Billings, prompting the officer’s concern.

Little Bear, who was convicted of assault with a weapon and sentenced in early 2016, had first completed drug treatment at Connections Corrections, a Montana Department of Corrections program in Warm Springs.

After that, Little Bear spent roughly 10 months at Alpha House, a prerelease center in Billings, according to Alternatives Inc. CEO Dave Armstrong. Little Bear left the center in March 2017 and stayed in the company’s transitional living for a month and a half after that.

He seemed to be doing well in the first few months after leaving, his probation officer wrote in a violation report filed Oct. 25, 2017.

But soon Little Bear lost his job, quit attending group support meetings, and things took “a turn for the worse,” the officer wrote.

Attempts to help Little Bear find stable housing, a sponsor and a job, and get back on track with plans to address substance abuse yielded no progress, the officer wrote.

In the report, filed a week after the police-involved shooting, the officer recommended Little Bear be returned to DOC custody, saying he was no longer appropriate for community supervision and needed a higher level of care.

In the assault case, Little Bear pulled a five-inch folding knife on a security guard near the Billings Public Library one night in April 2014, reportedly lunging at the man before the man sprayed him with pepper spray.

Little Bear was sentenced to five years with the Department of Corrections, with three years suspended.

Immediately after the motel shooting in October, Little Bear had been checked into St. Vincent Healthcare, and at the time was in critical condition, according to Billings Police Chief Rich St. John.

It is unclear how long Little Bear was kept at the hospital. Police have declined to release additional details in the case, pending an investigation by the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office.

For roughly a month, from Dec. 7, 2017, to Jan. 9, 2018, Little Bear was released in Billings on his own recognizance and was being monitored by GPS, according to court documents filed in the 2014 assault case.

Little Bear was then booked into the Yellowstone County Detention Facility for roughly two weeks, during which he had a court hearing revoking his release in the assault case and sentencing him to three years with the DOC.

On Jan. 25, Little Bear was transferred to the prison infirmary in Deer Lodge, the DOC confirmed.

Lazy K-T shooting

Before Little Bear was shot by Billings police during the confrontation at the motel in October, he had been sitting in the passenger seat of a car with a gun held vertically between his legs, according to St. John. At one point officers heard the gun being racked.

Officers had been alerted to him after receiving reports of a man brandishing a shotgun at the motel earlier in the evening, St. John said. That included one instance in which the man is believed to have fired a single round into the roof eaves of the motel.

The man then left the motel parking lot, police arrived and were present when a car returned around 1 a.m.

Officers saw the driver get out of the truck and walk across the parking lot, as the man, now known to be Little Bear, remained in the passenger seat.

Officers approached until they were roughly 30 yards away, saw the gun and heard it racked, St. John said.

Officers gave multiple commands to drop the weapon, but Little Bear did not.

Officers then saw Little Bear look at them, raise and swing the shotgun toward them, St. John said, prompting them to fire, hitting him multiple times.

St. John said Little Bear (whom he did not name) was shot in the torso but declined to elaborate on his injuries. Little Bear did not fire at the officers, St. John said.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.