HELENA — Brian John Temple, who was shot by a Helena police officer in May 2011, has sued the officer, the city and St. Peter’s Hospital, seeking $13.5 million in damages.
Temple, already on probation, was shot while driving his pickup as he left the state probation and parole office on North Rodney Street, fleeing police who wanted to question him about the suspected theft of coins from a local business.
Police and prosecutors said later that the officer fired his gun as Temple drove toward him. Temple, in a lawsuit filed May 3 in District Court in Helena, says he was driving around the officer when he was shot.
Temple was charged with assault on a peace officer and other crimes. But that assault charge was dropped after a judge agreed with Temple that evidence was mishandled.
Temple’s truck windshield (including the bullet hole) was removed, and the officer’s blood and urine samples, taken as part of the investigation into the shooting, disappeared at St. Peter’s Hospital. District Judge James Reynolds said the mishandling deprived Temple of evidence he might have been able to use in his defense.
Temple is still charged with the theft of coins, obstructing justice and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia in that case.
According to Temple’s lawsuit, filed by attorney David S. Freedman, of Miles City, Sgt. Peter Callahan of the Helena Police Department pursued Temple from the probation and parole office on foot, gun drawn. After Temple got into his truck, Callahan attempted to break the driver’s side window with the butt of his gun, then positioned himself near the driver’s side wheel well and followed the truck in that position as Temple backed up, according to the lawsuit.
Callahan then ran out into the street and pointed the gun at Temple, who lowered himself in his seat to avoid the possible gunfire and drove west on Breckenridge Street toward North Rodney, according to the lawsuit.
“As Temple proceeded around Callahan, Callahan fired his service weapon through the passenger side of the front windshield, striking Temple in the chest,” the complaint says.
Temple drove himself to St. Peter’s Hospital and was later airlifted to Great Falls.
The lawsuit names Callahan, the city of Helena and St. Peter’s Hospital, claiming the loss of the biological samples could have deprived him of evidence in the lawsuit.
The state Division of Criminal Investigations cleared Callahan of any wrongdoing in the incident.
The suit seeks $1.5 million from the city and $2 million from Callahan for damages including past and future medical costs, loss of future income and mental anguish or suffering, $5 million from St. Peter’s for compensatory damages; and another $5 million in total punitive damages from the three defendants.
Callahan retired as a police officer last fall and now works for the department as a civilian supervisor in the city-county dispatch center, Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said.
Temple was sentenced in Ravalli January to five years in prison after violating his probation on a separate conviction for assaulting a peace officer, and is incarcerated at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby.