Video: Suspect steals cruiser, runs down Mont. cop
Dash cam footage shows an officer get tossed across the street by the cruiser
By Angela Douglas
BILLINGS, Mont. — It was Sunday afternoon on January 6 when a two-hour standoff in Billings seemed to be coming to an end.
Daniel Brawley, 29, was arrested, along with his wife Heather, 24, after an attempted burglary at a home in the 800 block of Miles Avenue.
Brawley was placed in the backseat of a patrol car by Billings Police Officer Dave Punt, moments later things took a turn for the worse.
Brawley managed to free himself of the plastic flex cuffs, then pulled down the cage window and climbed over the front seat. He then put the car in drive.
"He hit Punt with the front end of the car and knocked him across the street," explained Billings Police Chief Rich St. John. "Officer Punt got off the ground and thought that the suspect was going to run him over. Believing he was in imminent danger, he drew his gun and fired."
The Billings Police Department released video Tuesday afternoon from two patrol car "dash cams," including Officer Punt's vehicle camera. The video showed a quick response by Officer Punt as he realized the man he had just placed in the backseat of his patrol car was in the drivers seat attempting to escape.
The video also showed Officer Punt getting knocked to the ground after Brawley struck him with the vehicle.
Officer Punt fired nine shots at the vehicle, Brawley was struck once and died from a single bullet wound to the torso.
Those events transpired in only about 10 seconds. And almost just as quickly, the question of, "How could this happen?" was raised. Chief Rich St. John stated there were multiple factors that played into the outcome.
"It's arguable that if you changed any one link in this whole situation, it would have turned out differently," said the Chief. "If the suspect doesn't slip his cuff, if the cage window functions properly, if the suspect was bigger than statute, if the car was off and the key removed or the toggle flipped."
Chief St. John admits the incident could have been better managed, but said the outcome lies solely on Brawley's shoulders.
"This entire incident and unfortunate outcome lies unequivocally with Mr. Brawley," St. John said adamantly. "He made conscious and desperate decision to escape."
Although the Billings Chief of Police agrees that Officer Punt's actions were appropriate, the department will make policy changes when it comes to how they handle the arrest of suspects prior to and during transport.
Once the investigation is complete, the case will be presented to the Yellowstone County Attorney in preparation for the coroner's inquest set for a later date.
Officer Punt has remained on administrative leave since the shooting, but is expected to return to work next week.
Reprinted with permission from Q2- KTVQ