*Date On Dashcam Incorrect*
A Gallatin County jury found Monday that Montana Highway Patrol trooper David DeLaittre was justified in shooting Errol Brent Bouldin during a Three Forks shootout that killed the 23-year-old officer last December.
A medical examiner testified Monday that Bouldin, 56, died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound later that night.
It took the jury of five women and two men about a half hour to reach a unanimous verdict after hearing about four hours of testimony at the Gallatin County Courthouse.
More than 50 people attended the coroner's inquest and watched videos taken from cameras on DeLaittre's dashboard and on the lapel of Three Forks Police officer Aaron Baczuk. Baczuk was the first officer to arrive at the rutted dirt road off Montana Highway 2 where DeLaittre died after stopping Bouldin.
Witnesses told investigators that Bouldin, who had an outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrant, was wandering on private property carrying a shotgun, Gallatin County detective Tom Pallach testified.
One witness saw Bouldin cross the road around 4:15 p.m. "stiff-legging" it in an attempt to hide the shotgun behind his leg, Pallach said, demonstrating for the jury.
Dashboard video from DeLaittre's cruiser showed the trooper pulling Bouldin's green Ford truck over on the dirt road.
Bouldin got out of his truck, put his hands in his pockets and walked toward the trooper as DeLaittre is heard saying, "Hello, sir."
Bouldin then is seen turning back toward the open door of his pickup.
"Come back here," DeLaittre is heard saying.
Bouldin turned around again but was holding a double-barreled shotgun that he pointed at DeLaittre.
The video shows that DeLaittre fired first, followed closely by Bouldin firing two shots. Shell casings are seen bouncing off the hood of DeLaittre's cruiser.
DeLaittre's gun belt fell off when Bouldin's first shot broke its buckle, Pallach said. A passer-by saw DeLaittre bend down for something black -- getting more ammunition for his .357-caliber pistol, Pallach said.
On the video, Bouldin is then seen reaching back into his truck where investigators determined he got two more shotgun shells that he also fired at DeLaittre.
After his fourth shot, Bouldin got into his truck and drove away.
When Baczuk arrived, he found DeLaittre's gun belt in the middle of the road and DeLaittre face down next to his cruiser.
Montana Division of Criminal Investigation agent Lee Johnson said Bouldin went home after the shooting and then drove to Broadwater County, where officers found him dead in his truck. Bouldin shot himself in the head with a rifle, investigators concluded.
An autopsy revealed that during the shootout Bouldin sustained a single bullet wound that grazed his lung and lodged in his chest, medical examiner Gary Dale said.
He lost a "tolerable" amount of blood, Dale said, but it was the self-inflicted gunshot that killed him.
Though he couldn't say if Bouldin was drunk at the time of the shootout, Dale said, Bouldin's alcohol level was more than twice the legal driving limit at the time of his death. Investigators found a pint of vodka in his truck.
|Liveleak on Facebook|