Billings, MT -- In January of 2015, two former Yellowstone County Sheriff’s deputies Jason Robinson and Christopher Rudolph opened fire on Loren Simpson and killed him as he attempted to flee their stop.
According to the police, Simpson matched the description of a suspect in an "allegedly stolen vehicle," and had pursued him down a dead end road. During the officers' attempt to block him in, Simpson veered to his left to avoid the deputies. However, Robinson, with an AR-15, and Rudolph, with a Shotgun, both opened fire, dumping 54 rounds within 5 seconds into the SUV and Simpson.
The rifle caused the fatal shot, striking Simpson through the back of the head and immediately paralyzing him, according to Thomas Bennett, associate medical examiner for the Montana and Wyoming, reported the Missoulian.
Likely knowing that they were going to be charged, both men resigned from the sheriff's office just days after the shooting -- as is standard protocol for officers attempting to avoid accountability.
For the last year, this story was swept under the rug as it was just another case of some loon attempting to run over cops and getting what he had coming. However, the dashcam of the incident was released this week, and it clearly contradicts that notion.
"I saw the front wheels turn in my direction,” Robinson said in a statement about the incident. “At that point, I knew he didn’t care he was going through me and he was going to kill me." But the dashcam never shows the wheels coming at Robinson, and, in fact, it shows the exact opposite.
During the two-day coroner’s inquest, a use-of-force expert and former FBI special Agent Brian Kensel was brought in to help the jury understand that the officers' only option was to fire 54 rounds into a vehicle that was driving away from them.
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According to the Missoulian, Kensel testified the deputies were justified in their actions. He said the only thing that matters in the eyes of the law is that the deputies felt threatened in the moments before they pulled the trigger. Any actions leading up to that moment are a “smoke screen” distracting them from the matter at hand.
Sadly, the sentiment that the only thing a cop has to do to kill someone is "feel threatened" resonated with the court and on Wednesday, a jury bought the assertion of Kensel and found the officers justified in the killing of Simpson.
After the trial, the attorney for the Simpson family, Nathan Wagner said they are confident that the outcome of the civil case will be much different.
"We are confident that the outcome will be different when we are allowed to present the rest of the evidence and cross-examine the witnesses at the civil trial," Wagner said. "We look forward to the opportunity to continue pursuing justice for the family."
Below is the entire video from that cold January day. Watch it carefully and you will see how easily it is for police to kill - with impunity. Take note that at 5:30 in the video, the officer says, "he hit the gas and was coming right at us." The deception had already begun.