A Billings man who was shot in the face by a police officer in November faces three felony charges for allegedly burglarizing a home in the North Elevation neighborhood, then trying to run over the officer with a car.
Desmond Ian Jordell Rowland, 21, pleaded not guilty Feb. 21 to felony charges of attempted assault on a peace officer, burglary and criminal endangerment. He also faces several misdemeanor counts of failure to appear.
Rowland was among a group of four people who had broken into a vacant home on the 1000 block of North 31st Street on Nov. 4 and stolen items from the garage, according to county prosecutors.
When the Billings police officer who responded to the burglary, Brandon Lange, began walking up the alley behind the house, Rowland pulled his girlfriend’s Chevrolet Malibu out of the driveway and drove toward the officer, the charges state.
“Officer Lange was standing to the north of the vehicle and there was nothing to obstruct the driver of the Malibu from turning south down the alleyway, away from him,” the charges state. “The driver of the Malibu drove at Officer Lange, putting him in jeopardy.”
Lange shot six times at the vehicle as it approached, according to prosecutors, who also noted that he was boxed in by a pile of wood on one side and a fence on the other. He was ultimately able to evade the speeding car and was not hurt in the incident.
Rowland was able to drive the car only a short distance before all four suspects abandoned it on the 1100 block of North Broadway. He was later found, shirtless and covered in blood, by Lange and another officer after running toward St. Vincent Healthcare, according to the charges.
A subsequent manhunt for the remaining suspects spanned more than a dozen blocks to the east of downtown Billings. None of the other occupants of the vehicle were immediately apprehended, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John told reporters at a press conference the next day.
But the owner of the car was later interviewed by investigators and said she was shot in the buttocks during the incident, according to prosecutors. The other two occupants of the car, a man and a woman, were former tenants of the homeowner whose house was broken into, according to another former tenant interviewed by police.
“She (Rowland's girlfriend) believed the officer was right to be in fear and had a need to protect himself,” the charges state.
The homeowner told police a pair of chainsaws, an air compressor and a stereo system had been stolen from the garage. They were later recovered from the trunk of the Malibu, according to prosecutors.
Rowland is being held at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility on $50,100 bond. A jury trial is scheduled for June 17.
Lange was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting, St. John said previously. Lange returned to duty Nov. 30, Billings Police Lt. Brandon Wooley stated in an email Wednesday.