BILLINGS — Surveillance video from the Grandstand Sports Bar and Casino is shedding light on details surrounding an incident in January involving two off-duty law enforcement officers that left one man in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Billings Police Officer Matt Frank and Yellowstone Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Smart walked out the northwest door of the Grandstand around 12:45 a.m. on Saturday, January 15. Moments later, 24-year-old Louis Delgado drove through the parking lot and shouted for the officers and a third man to "get the f*** out of the way."
Frank, Smart and a third unidentified man responded, "Really? Or what? Or what?"
Frank then is seen throwing his knee at the front driver's side door of Delgado's Chevy Malibu, which causes Delgado to stop. According to his attorney, Delgado then pulled out a gun in self-defense, fearing the three men were going to harm him.
“Are you going to pull a gun? I’ve got one too," one of the men can be heard saying.
As soon as the three outside the car see the gun, Frank and Smart lunge forward into the driver's window. Smart throws multiple punches while Frank appears to attempt to neutralize Delgado. The third man walks around the front of the car and tells Delgado’s passenger to get out, who does without incident.
Seconds later, Smart pulls back as though he’s been hit in the face with something. This is what Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said at a press conference later that Saturday.
"The deputy was hit in the face with something, which is what we believe to be a bullet fragment," St. John said.
There is no flash or audible gunshot in the video. Instead, it’s believed Delgado hit Smart with the butt of his gun. Frank then begins to aggressively punch the driver, and the third man enters the car in the passenger seat. Frank, Delgado and the unidentified man struggle for 30 seconds until Frank gets the driver door open. Delgado then steps on the gas and drives away with the third man in the passenger seat. The car goes to the edge of the parking lot, stops, and the man gets out as Frank runs after him. Then the car speeds away west on Grand Avenue.
About three and a half minutes later, Delgado pulls back into the parking lot and the group runs inside. Smart attempts to chase after the car but is held back. Multiple on-duty police cars are seen pulling up on Grand Avenue in the background of the video.
Delgado then turns west up Grand again and speeds off. A short chase ends four blocks away in front of Albertson’s after Delgado hit a light pole and flipped the car onto its roof. He was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries but did survive.
"The report out is that we got somebody shot, and that’s the way we responded the way that we did," St. John said later that day when asked about the heavy police presence. "And if that was not the case - if this was a big mix-up - then we don’t need to flee the police.”
Monday, St. John offered this statement about the new footage.
“I am aware of the video of this incident and realize what is depicted is concerning. As a department, we hold our officers to a high standard, both on and off duty. As such, we review all actions in light of department values and conduct demanded of all department members.”
Frank was placed on administrative leave on January 19 but is back on active duty in an administrative desk position. Smart was never taken out of service.
We reached out to Delgado and his attorney, Lyndon Scheveck, who both declined to comment on pending litigation. They are planning to fill a lawsuit against both officers
No charges had been filed against anyone involved in the case as of Monday.