A Montana cop said he was in fear for his life when he opened fire inside a car he had pulled over last year, killing an unarmed man who had been sitting in the back seat.
Billings police officer Grant Morrison said Richard Ramirez not only failed to raise his hands, but also appeared to reach for something.
A dashcam video released today, which shows Morrison firing into the car, did not capture Ramirez’s alleged movements from inside the car, so it’s impossible to tell what exactly was he doing.
But it appears as if Morrison was a little too trigger-happy during the stop.
Nevertheless, a coroner’s jury today ruled the shooting a “noncriminal, justifiable homicide.”
According to the Billings Gazette:
“I shot him… I thought he was going to kill me,” Morrison said.
The verdict is a recommendation to the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, which has final say on whether or not to pursue charges in the case. County Attorney Scott Twito said after the inquest that it is unlikely his office will seek charges.
Morrison said that he’d searched for Ramirez in connection with the West End shooting on April 13 and didn’t initially know he was in the car he pulled over the next day on the South Side.
During Wednesday’s testimony, Morrison recounted how when he pulled over a car on the South Side, he immediately noticed the rear right passenger moving and pushing against the door, as if he was going to get out.
He told the jury that he commanded all four people in the car to put their hands and they all initially complied, but the man in the back right passenger seat, quickly identified by Morrison as Ramirez, dropped his left hand several times
After telling him several times to keep his hands up, even warning that he’d shoot, Morrison said he reached into the car in a last-ditch effort to get Ramirez to put his hands up, with no luck.
“I was getting very scared,” Morrison said. “He pulled away from me, and he again did the exact same thing. He shoved his hand down to his side and started jiggling it up and down. I told him I was going to shoot him if he didn’t listen to me and put his hands up.”
But who would have seen this coming?
In August 2013, a coroner’s jury determined Morrison was justified when he fatally shot Jason Richard Shaw the previous April. In that incident, Shaw was outside of the vehicle and ignored Morrison’s commands and reached for what was later found to be a replica BB gun.
So when will the next one be?