BILLINGS — A Billings police officer shot and injured a 22-year-old Billings man with a single bullet Friday night after police heard a gunshot inside a residence during a domestic violence check.
"Around 11:15 p.m., I got woken up with a lot of yelling and screaming outside," said Richard Rockwell, who lives on the south side of the alley where the shooting occurred. "Right after that, I heard the gunshot go off."
Police initially responded to a call in the 1800 block of 6th Street West around 11 p.m. Friday and found a female inside a neighbor's residence who said her partner had threatened her after coming home intoxicated. Officers were told the suspect was inside their residence in the adjoining duplex with a loaded gun, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said Monday during a press conference.
"Shortly thereafter, officers heard a single gunshot from the adjoining residence," St. John said, "and evacuated the neighbors as well as the female."
Police say the suspect then walked out onto the front porch holding a cell phone and ignored multiple officer commands to get on the ground. Instead, the suspect then walked north along Sixth Street West, eventually to an alley in between Avenue F and Parkhill Drive.
During the walk, St. John said officers observed a handgun in the suspect's waistband. The suspect said he was going to put the gun down, but officers instructed him not to touch it. He eventually put his hand on the gun, which prompted Officer Ryland Nelson to fire. The suspect fell to the ground and dropped the gun. He was transported to a local hospital where he remained Monday in critical, but stable condition, St. John said.
Officers recovered a 9mm semiautomatic handgun from the scene. Nelson, who has been with the department for six years, has been placed on administrative leave per the department's procedures. No other officers fired a weapon during the incident.
This is Nelson’s second officer-involved shooting in two years. He was one of two officers who fired fatal shots at Cole Stump in October 2020, an incident that was ruled justifiable homicide by a coroner’s inquest earlier this year.
St. John said this suspect left his officers no choice.
"The suspect was directed to get on the ground, stop moving, show his hands, and don't touch the gun a total of 73 times," St. John said. "73 times he was given those instructions and failed to comply.
A joint investigation by BPD and the state Division of Criminal Investigation is ongoing.
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Watch the full press conference below: