DCI provides statement on Missoula officer-involved shooting

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Bryan Lockerby, Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) administrator, provided the following statement today regarding the officer-involved shooting that occurred on Thursday, Aug. 12 in Missoula:

Following our field investigation, which included initial interviews, crime scene assessment, ballistic analysis, and video review, the unfortunate and tragic event that occurred the early morning of Thursday, Aug. 12th, strongly indicates that the driver involved in the Missoula Police Department pursuit, died by suicide when the chase ended.

This was a critical incident that occurred in the middle of the night, and included a high speed, high stress, vehicle pursuit through the community of Missoula, placing a number of citizens at risk. The chase was ended by a successful PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver that stopped the vehicle at the intersection of Stephens and Florence. The officer reported seeing the driver, still seated, raising up a handgun, coinciding with the officer bringing his duty weapon towards the threat.

The subsequent series of events took place in a matter of seconds, almost simultaneously, as the driver’s gun discharged in the car. At the same time, the officer perceived that he was being shot at, and returned fire with one shot. From our initial assessment, which is corroborated by dash-cam video, Brendon Galbreath died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound that night. The shot fired by the officer struck Brendon’s car and was recovered at the scene. It did not strike Brendon.

I must stress that this is only our initial assessment, and the investigation is far from complete. Critical incidents always require great scrutiny and methodical investigation, which means they take considerable time to complete. There are witnesses to interview, videos to assess (both dashcam and body cam), 911 recordings, crime scene reconstruction, autopsy results, toxicology reports, and a complete review of the entire timeline of events leading up to this tragic night. This includes our agents obtaining background of Brendon Galbreath’s actions and behaviors leading up to the incident.

This investigation is clearly going to take considerable time, so we urge patience. It’s important that this be done right; we owe that to Brendon’s family, the Missoula community, and to the Missoula Police Department who requested us to conduct an outside investigation for them.

We will provide no further statements at this time. Our agency makes no assumptions and draws no conclusions. We gather facts and produce a comprehensive investigative report. That final report will be submitted to the Missoula County attorney for review and will likely follow the coroner’s inquest process. The evidence and information we gathered during this tragic event, will then be available as a matter of public record. In the meantime, the evidence is classified as criminal justice information and will not be released.

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