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Video captures Billings police fatally shooting man in downtown Billings

billings police shooting.jpg
Posted at 1:27 PM, Apr 30, 2024

Update 5:30 p.m.

Witness video obtained by MTN News from the upper floors of the First Interstate Tower captured the moment a man was shot on the sidewalk below by a Billings police officer.

The man, who was wielding a machete, was standing on the sidewalk across the street from the bank, quickly looking back and forth at the officers surrounded him in the street.

He is then shown falling to the ground after an officer fires a Taser and strikes him. Seven Billings police officers then run toward the man as he lies on the ground.

The man is seen writhing on the ground after he was Tased, and the officers continued to approach him. The video then appears to show one officer shoot him five times at close range while the man is still on the ground. A witness told MTN News she believed he was reaching for his machete, but the video is unclear.

This all happens in 10 seconds.

“They attempted to negotiate with that male. There was no progress… They attempted less lethal, it sounds like, in the form of a Taser, which was not effective,” Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick said on Tuesday at the scene. “At some point during their altercation with him and trying to take him into custody, one officer fired one of their service weapons and struck the subject.”

Bayley Vulgamore and Kym Van Pelt witnessed the entire situation from their office in the First Interstate Tower.

“Outside my window, I heard yelling and screaming,” Vulgamore said. “They (officers) went to go get him (after he was Tased) and you can just kind of see him roll to his side, and when he did that it looked like he went to go grab it (the machete) and then that’s when they shot him.”

Police have not released any details of the man's identity and a press conference is scheduled for Wednesday.

“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed anything like that and a little kind of like shocking and shaky feeling,” Van Pelt said.

The man, who was not identified by police, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police did not identify any of the officers involved in the incident. Police Chief Rich St. John plans to hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the incident.

MTN News is not showing the full witness video of the shooting due to its graphic nature. The video is stopped before the gunshots are fired.

Watch a portion of the video below:

Digital Extra: Witness video of Billings police shooting man

Reporting by Hailey Monaco

3:15 p.m.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to Billings police.

Update 1:36 p.m.

A Billings police officer shot a man who was wielding a machete on the 300 block of North 31st Street Tuesday afternoon, according to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick.

Police responded to the call about the man around 1 p.m. and attempted to negotiate with him, Lennick said. Multiple officers were on the scene.

He did not cooperate or drop his weapon, so an officer tried to subdue him with a Taser, which didn't work, Lennick said. Police said the man was waving the machete at people in the area.

One officer then fired his gun, and the man went down, Lennick said. He was taken to a local hospital, and Lennick said he does not know the man's condition.

The incident took place in front of the First Interstate Bank tower. No other injuries were reported.

Detectives remained at the scene Tuesday afternoon.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

Reporting by Kelsey Boggs

Billings police are responding to a report of a man waving a machete at passersby in downtown Billings.

Police are warning people to avoid the area on North 31st Street between Fourth Avenue North and Sixth Avenue North.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.