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Wrongful death suit against Livingston police set for trial

Wrongful death suit against Livingston police set for trial

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Livingston man shot by police there in 2016 is set for trial in June.

The case was filed in 2018 in U.S. District Court against the City of Livingston, its police chief and the two officers who shot and killed Sean Patrick O’Brien.

O’Brien was killed Jan. 2, 2016, when officers responded to the Shopko in Livingston on reports that a man had been threatening employees.

Police said the 37-year-old man ran at officers with a knife and that attempts to use a Taser on him didn't work.

Attorneys for O’Brien’s estate dispute that, saying the utility knife was unopened and that he wasn’t brandishing it.

Two officers, Kevin Engle and Andrew Emanuel, opened fire on O'Brien, who died at the scene.

The incident was captured on video, which the lawyers for O’Brien’s estate plan to show the jury at trial.

In a Park County coroner's inquest held roughly three months after the shooting, the jury determined the officers were justified in using deadly force.

O’Brien’s family can only recover damages if the jury determines he was 50% or less responsible for what happened, according to a trial brief filed by Randy Nelson, who represents the city and its police chief, Dale Johnson.

The jury could also find O’Brien was fully responsible, or it could find the city was fully responsible.

The case is set to be heard in June in front of Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan.

O'Brien's mother and son are represented by Jenna Lyons and Nathan Wagner, of Missoula. 

Billings attorneys Harlan Krogh and John Crist are representing Officers Engle and Emanuel. 


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