GREAT FALLS – A coroner’s inquest jury on Monday found the officers involved in the December shooting death of Stacy Micheletti were justified in their actions.
Great Falls police officers shot at Micheletti 15 times after he pointed what they believed to be a loaded gun at them.
The incident on Dec. 11 started at 9:30 a.m. when dispatchers received a suspicious call.
“A male was hiding in the bushes behind a house he had a gun. He pointed it at least one person maybe two. And he had fled the scene,” Sgt. Robert Beall said.
Officers were able to identify Micheletti by the contents of a backpack he had left behind.
“I had heard Officer Halloran relay over the radio that he had been advised by a neighbor of Micheletti that he drove a white Mustang with blue racing strips,” Officer Kevin Kelsey said.
Soon officers located the Mustang at 52nd Street and 10th Avenue North.
Officers say the urgency to find Micheletti was intense due to him becoming more erratic throughout the morning.
“Our idea was to sit on the vehicle until we could get an unmarked vehicle come watch it,” Officer Zaine O’Meara said.
Their plans quickly changed when a black Pontiac pulled up and Micheletti got out. The four officers near the Mustang quickly moved in on Micheletti.
“He looked pretty panicked at this time and started to reach into his waistband. I continued to tell him to show me his hands,” O’Meara said.
Officers said Micheletti was looking back and forth, and they noticed that he had a gun in his hand.
“He raises his gun. I can see as I am outstretched, I can see his gun come up towards us. It disappears behind my gun so I know that he is pointing his gun at me. It is that point in time that I discharge my first round,” Beall said.
Officers feared for not only their own lives but also for the lives of their fellow officers.
“I was in fear that he was going to shoot these officers over here as he was raising the handgun towards them,” Kelsey said.
Montana Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Mark Hilyard says the gun Micheletti pointed at the officers was a pellet gun.
"When I first looked at that weapon I thought it was real. I had to get down and physically look down the barrel to see what kind of caliber it was,” Hilyard said.
Hilyard also found meth in Micheletti ‘s pocket and the toxicology report states meth was in his system at the time of the shooting.
There will be no charges against the three officers involved in the shooting death of Micheletti.