Missoula Police Official Explains Policies For Use of Deadly Force [YouTube]
There were two officer-involved shootings involving Missoula law enforcement personnel within 24 hours of each other on New Year's Eve, one by a Missoula City Police Officer and the other by a Missoula County Sheriff's Captain.
Corporal Paul Kelly fired one shot into a vehicle that resulted in the death of Kaileb Williams, 20, when Williams failed to obey repeated commands from Kelly to stop strangling his girlfriend. Captain Rio fired two shots into a vehicle driven by Eugene Statelen, 42, as Statelen allegedly attempted to run Rio and his fellow Deputy Jace Dicken down near Evaro.
Both incidents are under investigation and the Missoula County Attorney's office will determine if the shootings were justified.
KGVO News reached out to Missoula Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh regarding his department's policies for the use of deadly force. Welsh said each law enforcement agency develops its own policy.
"Typically, you might see a use-of-force continuum where you have a cycle beginning at the lowest level of force which would be police presence," Welsh said. "That would continue all the way around to the point where an officer makes a decision to use deadly force. In the Missoula Police Department, we are governed by our policy that says law enforcement officers are authorized to use deadly force to protect the officer or others from what is reasonably believed to be a threat of imminent death."
Welsh says all Missoula Police Officers receive regular training in the use of force continuum using all the tools at their disposal.
In the Missoula Police Department, we are governed by our policy that says law enforcement officers are authorized to use deadly force to protect the officer or others from what is reasonably believed to be a threat of imminent death
"The typical patrol officer is equipped with what he has on his person or what might be in his car," Welsh said. "Typically, you might see things like pepper spray, or a Tazer. All those objects are not just freely worn, they do come with some training behind them. The officers know how and when to apply them and it is imperative that they are familiar with not only our use-of-force policies, but how they surround those tools we carry everywhere."
Welsh said the officers undergo weekly rotational training, and the recent law enforcement shootings have not led to heightened training relating to the use of force.
"I don't think we've reached the point where we feel it's necessary to do anything more than what we're already accomplishing on a weekly basis," he said. "If the types of things we see happening around the rest of the country were happening here more often, I think you might see some increase in that. But, as it stands now, we are doing what we need to do to make sure that our officers are up to speed."
Welsh said even though the department has been involved in a fatal shooting, to his knowledge, it has not been contacted by any outside groups that have been critical of police actions in larger cities.