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Missoula Sheriff’s Dept. Explains Use of Force Used Against Juvenile Escapee

Missoula County
Photo courtesy of Peter Christian

The Missoula County Sheriff’s office has reviewed the force used to arrest a juvenile suspect who attempted to escape from custody Tuesday afternoon. Captain Brad Giffin with the Sheriff’s Office says the force used was objectively reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances:

“There were some complaints that people made about the level of force that was used,” Giffin said. “When you look at the video, if you don’t look at it in slow motion, or if you don’t look at it a couple of times, it looks like he actually struck him once. But in reality, what happened was the deputy reached up to restrain him by putting his right arm up around his upper torso, and as he started to tighten his grasp on the subject, the suspect jammed his chin down into his arm causing him pain, and the deputy thought that he was biting him.”

Giffin says the deputy then decisively pulled his arm away, grabbed hold of the suspect’s hair, and pulled his head up in attempt to not be further bitten.

“When people see video tapes, it’s really easy to draw conclusions based on what you’re actually looking at,” Giffin said. “The hard part is to actually know all of the facts. The way that these uses of force need to be reviewed, is there’s a thing called the objective reasonable standard, and you have to review it looking at it from the perspective of the deputy who applies the force. I mean, it wouldn’t be fair to do it any other way.”

Giffin says they commend the deputy for his actions and that he did as little as necessary to put the juvenile back into custody without anyone getting hurt.

The investigation into the criminal escape is still underway.

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