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Lockwood man shot during welfare check files federal lawsuit against Yellowstone County sheriff, deputies

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Posted at 8:20 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 16:13:52-05

A Lockwood man is suing Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder and two deputies over a January 2018 incident where he was shot by law enforcement outside his home.

Travis James Tolan alleged in lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Billings that his rights were violated in a wrongful shooting involving Deputies Tyler Sennett and Brendan Trujillo on Jan. 21, 2018.

Linder was named in the suit as lead supervisor of the office.

The incident began when Tolan's friends called 911 and told dispatchers they were afraid he was suicidal because of his social media posts. Sennett and Trujillo were dispatched to Tolan's residence at 1932 Canary Ave. and told he might have a gun.

The two arrived in separate patrol cars at his trailer in the dark around 6:35 a.m., without turning on their lights or sirens, Tolan's attorneys argued in court documents.

After looking through the blinds to see if anyone was home, Sennett knocked on the door, according to court document.

Not knowing who was there at the early hour, Tolan grabbed his handgun and opened the door, his attorneys wrote.

Trujillo, who was standing behind Sennett, saw the gun and fired, striking Tolan once in the abdomen. Sennett also fired at Tolan because he said he heard the shots and didn't know who was shooting, according to court documents.

In the days after the shooting, Linder said the deputies believed Tolan had raised his weapon at them. Investigators later determined Tolan never fired.

Sennett and Trujillo were placed on administative leave and later cleared in the shooting in a review.

Tolan is alleging three separate charges: excessive force by the sheriff's office, assault and battery by all defendants and negligence by all defendants.

The county had not filed a response to the allegation as of Thursday.