A local deputy recently was formally reprimanded for actions while off-duty at Montana’s Grandstand Sports Bar and Casino in January. The move follows the suspension of an off-duty police officer who was at the same Billings venue.
The deputy, identified as Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Brandon Smart, also cannot have special duties for a year. In addition, he will attend ethics and conduct training.
The sheriff’s office ruled Smart violated the department’s ethics and conduct rules. Earlier, Billings police officer Matt Frank was suspended for two weeks without pay for the same incident.
It took place on Jan. 15. Frank and Smart were socializing at the bar with some other individuals. The duo and a third person went out into the venue’s parking lot.
Louis Delgado, 24, was driving a Chevy Malibu and apparently trying to exit the lot.
Delgado screamed at the men to move. “Get the f*** out of the way,” he was heard to say, KTVQ, a local TV station, reported.
Then, one of them yelled back, “Really. Or what?”
Frank allegedly pushed his knee into the driver’s side door.
Delgado warned them he had a gun.
Don’t pull a f***ing gun, you f***ing idiot. Are you f***ing kidding me?” one of the men yelled in response.
The situation escalated. Smart allegedly punched Delgado.
Delgado pulled out a firearm. A struggle took place as Smart reached for the gun.
Smart pulled back — leading police to first suspect he was hit by a bullet fragment. But a later review of video showed he was hit in the mouth by the butt of the firearm. No weapon ever was fired.
Driver Suffered Serious Injuries
Delgado sped away from the scene. Police officers, who were told he had shot the injured deputy, later pursued him. He eventually drove into a utility pole. He suffered serious injuries after his car rolled over. He was hospitalized for three days.
In total, at least two dozen officers either responded to the casino lot or the scene of the crash. The incident is still under investigation.
When announcing the reprimand, the sheriff’s department highlighted the internal rule that “Deputies will not engage in any activity or commit any act that would tend to bring discredit or impair the efficiency or reputation of the Sheriff’s Office or its Deputies.”
Delgado has retained a local attorney, Lyndon Scheveck. The lawyer plans to file a lawsuit, the Billings Gazette reported.
It needs to be brought to light what happened that night, so police can’t get away with things like that,” Delgado told the Gazette earlier this year. He said the officers started the fight.
Smart has worked for the sheriff’s department for 11 years. Frank has worked for the police department for nine years.
Police Department’s Actions
In addition to the suspension, Frank was assigned to the patrol division. He cannot be assigned to specialized duty. He must attend training on ethics, integrity, and conflict management, as well as undergo counseling. He will be on probation for two years.
In an earlier statement, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said he was “deeply troubled by the officer’s actions.
“We will redouble our efforts in areas of peer support and counseling so in the future, we can create a healthy culture that supports officers like Matt Frank, who until this incident was an exemplary officer and consummate professional, from doing something to damage their career.”
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