NewsCrime Watch


Name released of man killed by Billings police officer

Posted at 9:24 AM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 13:33:41-04

BILLINGS - The Yellowstone County Coroner's Office on Thursday released the name of a man who was shot and killed in downtown Billings by a police officer.

The man was identified as 45-year-old James Bennett. The coroner's office said Bennett is from Crow Agency but was known to be a transient in Billings.

Bennett died from gunshot wounds to the left upper extremity and torso, and the manner of death has been determined to be homicide, the coroner's office said.

Bennett was shot by Officer Zach Wallis on Tuesday after police responded to reports of a man wielding a machete near the First Interstate Bank building on North 31st Street.

Police Chief Rich St. John said at a press conference Wednesday that the seven officers who responded to the incident tried to subdue Bennett with a Taser, but after the man fell to the ground the Taser became ineffective "for some unknown reason" and Bennett began to resist and reached for the machete. Wallis shot Bennett five times, St. John said, and Bennett was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

Wallis has been placed on paid administrative leave and the incident is being investigated by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and the Billings Police Department.


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