Missoula Police Officer Involved in Fatal Labor Day Shooting
The Montana Department of Justice Office of Criminal Investigation released a statement on Tuesday that the officer involved shooting that occurred on Monday, Labor Day in Missoula was a fatal shooting.
Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes related the information early Tuesday afternoon.
“Yesterday afternoon, officers with the Missoula Police Department responded to a report of suspicious drug related activity in a dirt lot at the intersection of North Second and A Streets, and a confrontation did ensue,” said Barnes. “When officers attempted to speak with Mr. Stephen Cole Gill, a 35 year-old male, shots were fired and Mr. Gill was struck. He was transported to St. Patrick Hospital where he died of his wounds. No officers were injured during the confrontation and by request of Missoula Police Chief Mike Brady, the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation will be investigating the incident.”
Barnes outlined what will happen once the investigation has been completed.
“We will give a case file to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office for review and then the matter will be in their hands,” he said. “The investigation is ongoing and is still in its early stages, and as always with the DCI, it will be a thorough investigation.”
Barnes emphasized that all Montana law enforcement officers are specially trained to keep situations from escalating to the point where a firearm must be used.
“Officers utilize the techniques and the strategy that they were trained with to de-escalate a situation, and they receive that training here at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy during their basic training and any advanced training that they take,” he said. “When you talk with the leadership of police departments or sheriff’s offices, they emphasize this,” he said. “They don’t want their officers or their deputies to have to do this. It’s a last resort. De-escalation is emphasized and that is certainly the goal throughout the law enforcement community, and the goal is to prevent the worst case scenario from happening.”
The name of the officer involved has not yet been released, however, according to Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Welsh, "two officers were placed on administrative leave per our policy and standard operating procedure."
The last fatal officer involved shooting occurred in December, 2018 in an incident on Blaine Street in Missoula that was determined to be 'suicide by cop'.