May 30, 2013 10:59 PM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News
Lewis & Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson has identified 62-year old Douglas Francis Harper as the man who was shot and killed by a Sheriff's deputy east of Helena on Wednesday.
There was a warrant for Harper's arrest on a charge of arson in Musselshell County.
Although the incident is still under investigation by the state Division of Criminal Investigations, the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton has reason to believe that Harper was suicidal and the actions by the deputy were warranted.
Dutton said, "The officer did make contact, the gentleman didn't comply and he threatened the officer with a gun. The deputy did respond to protect himself. It was a defensive act."
The officer was not injured in the incident. He has been put on administrative leave as part of the normal process.
Sheriff Dutton says he is not releasing his name at this time.
Once the investigation is complete, the case will undergo a coroner's inquest as required by law.
Here is the full text of the press release issued by the Sheriff's office:
On May 29th, 2013 at approximately 5:23 pm, a Lewis and Clark Deputy Sheriff arrived at 3065 Moore Court to conduct a welfare check on 62 year-old male, who was also wanted on a warrant issued for his arrest out of Musselshell County on a pending arson Investigation.
The deputy sheriff approached the male, who was sitting in the driver's seat of his vehicle parked in the driveway of the residence. The deputy initiated contact with the male and observed the male with a handgun. The male failed to comply with numerous commands to male to raise his hands and drop the gun. The male raised and directed the handgun towards the deputy. The deputy took defensive action and fired several rounds, killing the male. Numerous Lewis and Clark Sheriff Office deputies responded to the scene. Sheriff Leo Dutton contacted the Division of Criminal Investigation at the Montana Department of Justice to assist and investigate the shooting. Per policy, the deputy sheriff has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
The Division of Criminal Investigation at the Montana Department of Justice has assigned four agents to the investigation, which will take several weeks to complete. Once the investigation is completed, the findings will be given to Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher for his review and to work with the Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson to schedule a Coroner's Inquest.