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Suspect grazed in shooting, charges denied

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A Ronan man appeared at District Court in Polson on April 28 on a number of charges, stemming from a pursuit with a Montana Highway Patrol trooper.

Billy Washburn, 41, entered pleas of not guilty to assault on a peace or judicial officer, criminal endangerment and criminal mischief, all felonies.

According to court records, on March 2, Montana Highway Patrol trooper Julian Gallegos observed a vehicle traveling at 72 mph in a 55 mph zone. Gallegos initiated a traffic stop and identified Washburn as the driver. 

Washburn refused to comply with Gallegos' request to exit the vehicle. Washburn then drove off and a pursuit was on. The trooper observed Washburn pull over to let a passenger out and then kept going. 

The pursuit continued onto Beaverhead Road and the trooper performed a “pursuit intervention technique,” which forced Washburn’s vehicle off the road. Washburn allegedly used his vehicle to ram Gallegos’ patrol car, causing substantial damage in excess of $1,500. 

The trooper fired his service weapon toward Washburn and, according to records, Washburn was grazed with one shot. 

Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Steve Raymond arrived on scene to back up Gallegos. An area homeowner happened to be moving logs with a tractor and assisted law enforcement in trying to block Washburn’s vehicle from moving. Washburn allegedly used his vehicle to ram the tractor, causing damage to both the tractor and Washburn’s vehicle. 

Charging documents indicate that the Montana Department of Criminal Investigations is still investigating the incident, which could result in more charges. Judge James Manley set the case for trial on Oct. 18. Washburn is at liberty.

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