Billings, MT — Two sheriff’s officers abandoned protocol when they deputized three teenagers to help locate an allegedly stolen vehicle, then shot the driver to death as he approached their roadblock, according to a lawsuit filed by the victim’s family.
Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Officers Jason Robinson and Christopher Rudolph chose a narrow part of a snowy road on January 8 to park their squad car, leaving no room for 28-year-old Loren Benjamin Simpson to pass. They stood in the road and used an AR-15 rifle and 12-gauge shotgun to shoot Simpson as he approached, continuing to fire after he swerved into a snowbank.
Adding to the nature of this Wild West-style take-down, the officers co-opted three teenagers—16, 14, and 14—into helping them trap Simpson. The cops asked the teens, who had just gotten off the bus, to push their car out of the snow after getting it stuck during the pursuit.
The teens informed the cops that White Buffalo Road was a dead-end, and the car would have to come back the same way.
“Robinson and Rudolph then exchanged phone numbers with the 16-year-old boy, and sent the three youths up White Buffalo Road toward their residence with instructions to call the officers if they saw the vehicle the officers had been pursuing. Robinson and Rudolph essentially deputized the three youths on the spot and enlisted them to go investigate a vehicle that the deputies suspected had been involved in a crime,” according to the complaint.
Sure enough, the teens spotted the vehicle and called the cops, who then took their positions in front of their squad car, ready to fire. There were numerous plowed driveways nearby where they could have parked or stood, rather than deliberately placing themselves in the path of the vehicle.
This scenario is all too familiar with cops who are thirsty for blood. They put themselves in front of moving vehicles so they can “fear for their life” and shoot to kill. The car does not have to actually pose a threat, as in the case of Jessica Hernandez’s car, which traveled no more than 11 miles per hour over a distance of 16 feet. Two Denver cops shot her 18 times.
Cops use the “car bearing down on me” excuse if no video exists to prove the lie, or if video is kept hidden from the public. Officer Mark Tiller claimed that Zachary Hammond was bearing down on him with a vehicle and had no choice but to shoot. However, autopsy results do not support this assertion, and dashcam footage has not been released.
The family of Simpson is seeking punitive damages for wrongful death, assault, negligence, civil rights violations, constitutional violations, and loss of consortium. Officials could not comment on the matter, and the family’s attorney has not responded to inquiries.