A 29-year-old Billings man was shot dead by a Billings police officer Monday morning after charging at officers with a knife and not responding to commands, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said during an afternoon press conference.
Officer Brian Weaver shot the man three times, St. John said, striking the man an unknown number of times. A second officer, Jairo Solorio, simultaneously fired a stun gun at the man, the chief said.
The man was taken to Billings Clinic where he later died of his injuries, St. John said. The man's name is being withheld until his family is notified. No one else was injured.
An employee of the Human Resources Development Council, which is housed in a building next to the Sandra Apartments on the 10 block of North 32nd Street, called police at 10:10 a.m. to report a man across the alley in an apartment stabbing things in a room.
Police tried to de-escalate the situation through an apartment window facing the alley, St. John said. The man had reportedly stabbed the window, breaking it, and at one point threw three knives through the window at police. Officers tried to stun the man with a stun gun through the window, but St. John said it had no effect.
Police blocked the apartment building’s exits, then entered a narrow hall before reaching the man's room. Officers announced themselves and then heard the deadbolt loudly unlock before the man came out holding a knife, St. John said.
"He was advancing with the knife presented to the officers," he said. "They retreated, and keep in mind, this is a very narrow hallway, so if the two of them are side-by-side it would have blocked the whole hallway."
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Weaver and Solorio backed away, telling the man to drop the knife while he continued moving toward them, St. John said. Weaver fired as Solorio fired a stun gun. The chief said he did not know where on the man's body he was shot.
St. John said the man behaved erratically throughout the event, but said he was "not aware" of any evidence that the man had been using drugs or alcohol prior to the shooting.
"He made slashing and stabbing motions in the air, into and at the wall and at one point stabbed the window, breaking it out," St. John said. "The caller further reported the man was yelling and making nonsensical statements, at one point the man was heard saying 'God will forgive me.'"
The police chief did not know whether any other people, besides the officers and the employee who reported the man, witnessed the incident. No one else was in the room with the man, the police chief said, adding that no one appeared to be in immediate danger before officers arrived.
One of the officers in the alley was wearing a body camera, and St. John said he expected to be able to review additional audio recordings.
Both Weaver and Solorio have been placed on routine administrative leave pending a review of the incident. They "absolutely" acted in accordance with police protocol, St. John said, and noted that non-lethal force was attempted before Weaver opened fire.
"What I see is erratic behavior — why, I don't know — and I see someone charging our officers with a knife," St. John said. "I see them trying to retreat and trying to use less lethal (force), and unfortunately we had to use lethal in this situation."
BPD is investigating the shooting with assistance and oversight from the Montana Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation, St. John said.